The Politics of the Border


I sure hope this doesn’t turn into one of those blogs that only talks about border issues. Its a problem, I know that, but its not the only problem. Politically speaking, its a problem for President Obama’s administration and the Democratic party in Arizona.

There is a part of me that wants to say that Arizona Governor Jan Brewer calculated this out and understood the political ramifications of the passage of SB 1070, some have speculated that that might be the case. Then there’s another part of me that has pretty much warmed up to the idea that it might have just been what it looks like, a state that could no longer sit on its hands and wait for federal action, with a hint of an attitude that says help us out or we’ll do it ourselves.

I hope that doesn’t give you the impression that I think the passage of SB 1070 will magically fix the border problem, it won’t. Its obviously going to take more than just SB 1070, its going to take real action from the federal government, but I’ve pointed out before what that action should look like. And it can’t be what President Obama calls “comprehensive” immigration reform.

But back to my original point. I’d like to bring your attention to two articles, one by Sean Miller at The Hill and another by Byron York in the Washington Examiner.

The first one brings to light to political ramifications for Arizona Democrats because of the lawsuit proposed by the Obama administration.

The Hill:

Arizona Democrats facing tough reelection races are distancing themselves from the Obama administration as it prepares to file a lawsuit against the state over its controversial immigration law.

Rep. Harry Mitchell (D-Ariz.) on Monday sent a sharply worded letter to President Barack Obama urging him not to sue.

“I believe your administration’s time, efforts and resources would be much better spent securing the border and fixing our broken immigration system,” the two-term congressman wrote in the letter.

“Arizonans are tired of the grandstanding, and tired of waiting for help from Washington. … [A] lawsuit won’t solve the problem. It won’t secure the border, and it won’t fix our broken immigration system.”

“Congresswoman Giffords wants more federal agents on the Arizona border, not federal lawyers in court arguing with state lawyers about a law that will do nothing to increase public safety in the communities she represents,” C.J. Karamargin, a spokesman for the congresswoman, told The Hill.

Kirkpatrick likewise said the administration should focus on border security.

“I am calling on the president and the attorney general to abandon preparations for a lawsuit against Arizona, and to recommit to finding a national solution to fixing this national problem,” the freshman lawmaker said in a statement released Monday. “The administration should focus on working with Arizona to put together a long-term strategy to secure our borders and reform our immigration policy.

… The time for talk is over, and the time for action is here.”

The three Democrats have also directed their energy to lifting the Arizona boycotts that various groups and local governments around the country have started.

So right now you are seeing Democrats at the state level pitted up against Democrats in the White House. As the article points out, “Another way the suit could be problematic for Arizona Democrats: It could make it more complicated for them to appear with Obama at a fundraiser or campaign with him in-state.”

I need to hurry, since I’m running out of time and I need to leave for work.

Now on to Byron York from the Washington Examiner. Last weekend Sen. Jon Kyl basically told us that President Obama, one-on-one meeting with Kyl, in a roundabout way told him he’s not going to act on the border. He doesn’t want to do anything until comprehensive immigration reform is on the table. Later on a spokesman for the White House came out and said Kyl was lying.

Byron York:

Now, in an interview with KVOI radio in Arizona, Kyl says his account of the Oval Office conversation is accurate.

“What I said occurred did occur,” Kyl said.

“One way you can verify the validity of what I said is that that’s exactly their position,” Kyl continued.

“Some spokesman down at the White House said no, that isn’t what happened at all, and then proceeded to say we need comprehensive immigration reform to secure the border.

That is their position, and all I was doing was explaining why, from a conversation with the president, why it appears that that’s their position.”

After Kyl’s radio interview, a Kyl spokesman sent a note emphasizing the senator’s point. “There were two people in that meeting and [spokesman] Dan Pfeiffer was not one of them,” spokesman Andrew Wilder said.

“The White House spokesman’s pushback that you must have comprehensive immigration reform to secure the border only confirms Kyl’s account.”

So this makes for interesting politics. You have Arizona Democrats distancing themselves from the White House and sounding almost like Republicans when it comes to action on the border. And you have the White House ready to sue Arizona and hurt the Democrats running for reelection in the state. Not to mention that if the White House continues on their current path it further validates Kyl’s claim that the President is not after anything but “comprehensive immigration reform.”

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