The Republicans’ Gran Torino-esque obsession with keeping teh illegalz off our lawn has taken center stage in the current immigration crisis, which actually has nothing to do with border security. But if you’re having trouble coming around to the idea that the GOP’s stance on immigration is completely insane, take a quick look at the immigration reform bill that they’re saying no to. In spite of the fact that our southern border is already pretty damn secure, Republicans insist that nothing more can be done on immigration, not even for the unaccompanied children who are being shouted away aboard buses, until it’s super-duper secure, and the Senate-passed immigration bill isn’t quite enough.
Right now, there are just over 21,000 Border Patrol agents securing our borders, almost 19,000 of which guard the southwest border. That’s up from just over 15,000 at the end of the Bush administration, a difference roughly equivalent to the total number of Border Patrol agents who were on the job at the end of Ronald Reagan’s presidency. There are more Border Patrol agents now than there were U.S. troops in Afghanistan for the first five years of the war. The comprehensive immigration reform bill that passed the Senate calls for an additional 20,000 Border Patrol agents (plus 3,500 Customs and Border Protection agents), which would bring the total to just above the number of troops there were in Afghanistan when George W. Bush left office. And still, this is not enough for Republicans.
To answer the question in the headline, whereas the Death Star in Star Wars only had one Vader, the immigration reform bill has six. In addition to the ridiculous number of Border Patrol agents required by the bill, a laundry list of technological improvements is included, such as:
4 unmanned aircraft systems (drones).
6 VADER radar systems.
17 UH–1N helicopters.
8 C–206H aircraft upgrades
10 Blackhawk helicopter 10 A–L conversions, 5 new Blackhawk M Model.
30 marine vessels.
That’s not including other toys, like backscatter x-ray machines and thermal imaging systems, that the bill requires. VADER, in case you were wondering, stands for “Vehicle and Dismount Exploitation Radar,” but as a symbolic representation of anti-immigration overkill, it could not be any more perfect. If they could demand a Death Star at our southern border, Republicans would, and when President Obama agreed to build one, they’d hold out for five more.
But here’s the kicker. You know that “path to citizenship” you keep hearing about, with all those requirements for people who have already been living here to pay fees and back taxes, learn English, twirl around three times while patting themselves on the stomach, and crawl seventy-two yards over broken glass before they can even apply to become citizens? None of that can even get started until six months after all of the Border Security Death Stars are in place. It’s in the law.
That’s why even when President Obama humors Rick Perry, and agrees to send him the 1,000 National guard troops he doesn’t need to scoop up terrified children, John Boehner’s response is to yell some dumb shit about Obama “taking responsibility” for the insanely draconian bill that Boehner is still too scared to bring to a vote.
It would not matter if there were six actual Death Stars in the immigration bill, or alligator moats, or machines that turn illegal border-crossers into delicious Soylent Sienna, Republicans would still not pass it, because they are controlled by the hateful, “Amnesty!”-denouncing racists who blocked those buses in California.