A year ago, “securing” the U.S.-Mexican border was seen as the linchpin to getting immigration reform through Congress and onto President Obama’s desk. Then, as now, there has been a vast gap between Washington’s political perceptions of enforcement along the border and the realities on the ground, reports the Arizona Republic. In April 2013, then-Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told Congress that the border was more secure than it had ever been. Last June, to lock down more votes as the Senate moved to adopt immigration reform, the “Gang of Eight” senators who wrote the bill agreed to a massive, last-minute border-security amendment.
The proposal would have nearly doubled the number of Border Patrol agents along the U.S.-Mexican border, building 350 more miles of border fence, and acquiring more drones and other technology, among other measures — even though the past three years have seen the lowest levels of apprehensions since the 1970s. A House bill never has come to a vote on the House floor. Most political analysts say that any chance of immigration reform is dead. Some point to the June 10 Republican primary defeat of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who was seen as the key to shepherding support — or at least tamping down opposition — from the most vocal “tea party” members. In the primary season leading up to this fall’s election, House Republicans have shown even less appetite for reform than last year.