During his major immigration speech this week in El Paso, Texas, President Obama mentioned the 640 mile long U.S.-Mexico border wall that has scarredthe Southwestern landscape and prevented migration of endangered species like jaguars, ocelots, and Sonoran pronghorn antelope.
The speech is fascinating for two reasons: 1) it’s pretty clear (as if it weren’t already) that border region Texans pretty much hate the wall 2) Obama lays out his preemptive capitulation negotiating strategy in public, and seems genuinely surprised that Tea Party Republicans won’t enact his agenda even after he’s gone ahead and done every crazy thing they said they wanted.
Watch the speech:
Here’s the relevant text of Obama’s Texas speech from the official White House transcript:
THE PRESIDENT: The Border Patrol has 20,000 agents — more than twice as many as there were in 2004. It’s a build-up that began under President Bush and that we’ve continued, and I had a chance to meet some of these outstanding agents, and actually saw some of them on horseback who looked pretty tough. (Laughter.) So we put the agents here.
Then they wanted a fence. Well, the fence is –
THE PRESIDENT: The fence is now basically complete.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Tear it down!
THE PRESIDENT: … We have gone above and beyond what was requested by the very Republicans who said they supported broader reform as long as we got serious about enforcement. All the stuff they asked for, we’ve done. But even though we’ve answered these concerns, I’ve got to say I suspect there are still going to be some who are trying to move the goal posts on us one more time.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: They’re racist!
THE PRESIDENT: You know, they said we needed to triple the Border Patrol Or now they’re going to say we need to quadruple the Border Patrol. Or they’ll want a higher fence. Maybe they’ll need a moat. (Laughter.) Maybe they want alligators in the moat. (Laughter.) They’ll never be satisfied. And I understand that. That’s politics.
Good news: Obama didn’t deliver a paean to border walls.
Bad news: He didn’t say if he’d fulfill his campaign promise to tear down the useless wall either, we don’t know if he’ll stand up to Congressional efforts to mandate building of more walls, and Obama alas remains pretty much the world’s worst negotiator.