When he was running the president, there was little hint that Obama’s first important address on immigration would have him doubling down on some of President Bush’s most troubling social control policies. The Administration announcement March 24, 2009 has helped usher in a new era of intelligence-led policing at the border.
Border militarization under Obama continues Bush policies that failed on their own terms and include: beefing up border security, advancing the federalization of immigration control, public/private counter-intelligence projects, and moving forward with state of the art virtual fence and counter-intelligence technologies.
This new policy runs counter to the more progressive pro-immigrant rights speeches heard during the campaign particularly during the primaries. Few would have imagined, for example, that Obama would have doubled the size of border enforcement task forces and violent criminal alien teams; triple the number of intelligence analysts along the border; and quadruple the number of border liaisons working with Mexican law enforcement officials. (as the NYT reports this aft.) This new border security initiative follows $700 million Congress had already committed to the region to support Mexican law enforcement and judicial capacity, helicopters and a surveillance aircraft to the Mexican military, and inspection technology.
On March 25, Obama committed to adding security teams that combine local, state and federal officers; 16 new DEA positions at the border; 100 officials from the ATF; and possibly the National Guard.
Few question the severity of the violence in northerm Mexico with some 6,500 deaths caused by warring drug cartels. According to DHS Secry Napolitano, “Mexico right now has issues of violence that are a different degree and level than we’ve seen before.” And as Mark Koumans, Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Affairs testified before Congress earlier this month, “The sustained levels of violence that we observe in Mexican border cities like Tijuana, Ciudad Juarez, and Nogales threaten private citizens, tourists, workers, and businesses alike The approximately 6,000 drug-related murders in Mexico last year were more than twice the previous record…”
The problem, however, here has to do with the unintended consequences of a policy that picks up where the abject failed policies of Bush left off. Obama has not only inherited SBInet, the border wall, US-VISIT biometrics, smart passports and drivers licenses and counter-intelligence schemes that were hatched during the years of post 9/11 shock. Looks like he is about to give them new life.