A record number of immigrants were deported in fiscal 2011. You'd think that would be greeted as good news by Republicans, who have repeatedly demanded that the Obama administration crack down on illegal immigration. But it won't be. The latest numbers, released last week, are unlikely to sway the current field of Republican presidential hopefuls, who steadfastly refuse to discuss fixing the broken immigration system, arguing that only stricter enforcement, tougher penalties and a 100% secured border will satisfy them.
Never mind that enforcement along the border with Mexico is more stringent now than perhaps any other time in U.S. history. Ignore the fact that an ambitious plan launched during the George W. Bush administration and continued under President Obama has doubled the number of Border Patrol boots on the ground and added hundreds of miles of new walls and cyber-fences. And pay no attention to U.S. Customs and Border Protection statistics that indicate arrests and illegal crossings at the southern border dipped to record low levels last year.
The prospective GOP presidential candidates won't be distracted from their vow to secure the border. So what exactly do they propose? Hard to tell, if the recent debate in Nevada is any indication. When pressed, they sputtered. A fence or perhaps a wall, said businessman and front-runner du jour Herman Cain. A double wall, replied Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann. Drones and more Border Patrol agents, argued Texas Gov. Rick Perry. As for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, he was too busy fending off claims that he knowingly hired illegal immigrants to mow his lawn to outline a coherent solution.