Border Security Is President Obama’s Responsibility, Whether He Likes It or Not

In the wake of increased border violence, kidnappings, and incursions into its territory by drug gangs and human smuggling operators, the state of Arizona passed SB 1070 last month. That law is an attempt to bring some law and order to its chaotic border with Mexico. Since its passage, the controversial law has been the subject of a national discussion that has morphed into a heated argument on race, immigration law, and border security as a whole.

While the Republican Party of Texas believes that there is legitimate debate over SB 1070, and we look forward to working with our own legislature next year on border security and many other issues facing Texas, the fact is that the Arizona law has been grossly mischaracterized by many in the media and liberal activists and Democrats throughout the nation. For instance, the phrase “lawful contact,” which under SB 1070 governs when Arizona law enforcement officials may inquire about immigration status, has been adjudicated many times over many decades and is well understood as a legal concept by law enforcement officers. And the requirement on the part of legal immigrants to carry their documentation on their persons at all times is not new in the Arizona law, nor is it unique: That requirement is not directed toward any specific ethic group and has been federal law since 1940. It was passed by a Democratic Congress and signed by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. SB 1070 also specifically forbids racial profiling.

The most ironic aspect of the debate over Arizona’s law is the reaction from the Obama administration. Border security is a vital component of our national security. While aspects of securing our nation’s borders reasonably fall to the states and even local governments, overall, border security is a federal responsibility. The federal government has largely failed in this responsibility, and Arizona’s new law was drafted and passed in large part to address this federal failure.

Rather than react to Arizona’s law with any fairness or understanding of the very real violence that plagues Arizona and all border states thanks to the federal government’s failure to secure our borders, the left let fly with charges of “racism” and even more extreme insults, and President Obama called the law “misguided” and “irresponsible.” Whatever one thinks of Arizona’s new law, and there is much room for legitimate debate over it, for President Obama to call Arizona “irresponsible” for taking action to fix a federal failure is itself irresponsible. President Obama’s stance is the very height of irresponsibility, and ought not pass unchallenged.