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Parties Wrestle for Control of Immigration Narrative Before Obama's Address

"And I'm gonna applaud Senator Rubio for his efforts, the bipartisan efforts here in the House. And what I want to do is encourage both sides of the Capitol and both parties to continue talking to one another so that we can resolve this issue in a bipartisan manner," Boehner added.

Napolitano traveled Tuesday to Clint and El Paso, Texas, "to inspect border security operations at the Southwest border, meet with state and local stakeholders, and discuss the Department’s ongoing efforts to secure the border while facilitating lawful travel and trade," DHS said in a readout of the trip, lauding the "historic levels" of border security resources under the Obama administration.

“At DHS, we are committed to making sure that the entire Southwest border is secure while expediting legal travel and trade,” said Napolitano. “We have matched this progress at the border with smart, effective immigration enforcement, with a focus on identifying and removing criminal aliens and other public safety threats, recent border crossers, repeat violators, and employers who break the law.”

On Monday, Napolitano was getting an "operational briefing" of the border in San Diego, including an aerial tour of the San Ysidro and Otay Mesa ports of entry.

“Given that Washington Democrats like Senator Reid have a hard time understanding what ‘operational control’ of the border means, I’m encouraged to see Sec. Napolitano visit the Texas border," Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said. “I hope Sec. Napolitano returns to Washington and relays to the president and Senate Democrats what Texans already know: our border is not secure and the federal government has a long way to go.”

The House Judiciary Committee also convened a hearing on immigration reform yesterday, featuring San Antonio mayor and Democratic Party It Boy Julian Castro at the witness table.

"I hope no one uses the term illegal immigrants here today," Ranking Member John Conyers (D-Mich.) said at the outset of the hearing. "Our citizens are not -- our -- our -- the people in this country are not illegal, they are out of status, they're new Americans that are immigrants."

With Reps. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), Steve King (R-Iowa), and Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) on the committee, he didn't get his wish.

Gohmert noted that when he and King went to talk about illegal immigration in England, they were advised to use the term "irregular migration."

"But anyway, whether it's irregular migration or illegal immigration, they said they have a law that provides if you come into England, you have to swear that you will not accept any government benefits for a period of five years," Gohmert said. "As they said, since it's all about the best interests of our country, we need to make sure people coming in contribute before they take out."

"How do we not end up in the same situation 10, 20 years down the road if we do this again? My fear is that what we're saying by a pathway to citizenship is that, 'All right, you come over here illegally.' Let's say we seal the borders 100 percent, nobody can cross the border illegally. You're still going to have people overstaying their tourist visas. You'll still have people overstaying their student visas," said Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas).

"And the natural belief is, 'All right, they've done it twice. I'll just wait them out and they do it again.' And we create this underclass of people who can't have a real job, that are selling bootleg DVDs in the flea markets, or, you know, working whatever underground economy. How do we craft this so we don't fall into the same trap?"