Opinion: Immigration: Candidates up the ante on border security
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When it came to immigration and border security, Tuesday’s Republican presidential debate sounded more like a Vegas casino than a policy debate. Candidates were quick to up the ante on enforcement, calling for a wall. No, make that a double wall -- or perhaps an electric fence.
The first to offer up a plan was businessman-turned-candidate Herman Cain, who backed away from his call for an electric fence along the border. Cain, who said he was joking, outlined a multi-pronged approach to border security that would include a fence, high technology and boots on the ground. Does that sound familiar? It should. That is the current strategy, used by the George W. Bush and the Obama administrations.
Rep. Michele Bachmann quickly jumped in with a plan for securing the border: a double wall.
And of course Texas Gov. Rick Perry offered up his proposal for more boots on the ground to patrol the border, along with predator drones to conduct surveillance flights.
All three plans ignore one small detail. Currently, deportations and federal funding for immigration enforcement are at an all-time high.
On Tuesday, the Obama administration announced that it had deported 396,906 immigrants, up from 291,000 in 2007.
Spending has also increased, going from $8.5 billion in 2005 to nearly $16.2 billion this year. The number of Border Patrol agents has increased from 12,348 in 2006 to more than 21,000 in 2011.
-- Sandra Hernandez