Morning Joe | February 21, 2013
>>> dwoswin. her latest piece, "while nobody was looking, the border gods secured." she writes this. the porous border has long been the republicans' main argument against reforming immigration laws . the last time congress took up the issue in 2007 , it bogged down over the government's inability to stop the flow of undocumented laborers. this time, those looking to revive concerns about a lawless border must contend with a far
different set of facts: the line between mexico and the u.s. is now more secure than it's been in decades. obama has poured money and resources into border security . in his first term, he spent $73 billion on immigration enforcement. standing on the stretch of the southwest border between tijuana and san diego on february 4th , homeland security secretary janet napolitano declared, "i believe the border is secure." elizabeth, welcome back to the show. good to see you.
>> thank you. you, too.
>> what are the challenges ahead given this?
>> i mean, look. we've seen, you know, as the debate -- the debate coming in, we've seen the republicans led by rubio lay down their red lines and they've said we're not going to have immigration reform without a tighter, more secure border . and if you really listen to what they're saying, they're saying 100% sealed border which is first of all, logistically impossibility. second of all, it would cost hundreds of billions of dollars. it might not be surprising, but then you realize that the border has completely transformed from six years ago when congress last debated immigration. it's a completely different border now. one of the reasons is that obama has showered resources on it, you know, record resources, $73 billion. we have nine drones, ten drones patrolling the border , 650 miles of fence. he's doubled the number of towers.
>> how much more secure, how tighter can it get?
>> how tighter can it get? well, it's a hard question to answer, too, because fewer people have been coming from mexico . and part of that is the bad economy in the u.s. there's just fewer jobs. part of that is a good economy in mexico . part of it's our enforcement. and of course, drug cartels and the drug war in mexico have played a huge role.
>> but james, republicans are going to have to talk about border security , border security , border security to sell the other part of this. we saw john mccain and jeff flake , the two senators from arizona, having to sort of go back and forth and back and forth and slowly move their constituents along. and the way they do that is by talking tough on the border .
>> yes. and this is politics playing out. right after the election, even sean hannity said well, maybe i'm for some kind of a border thing. the people in the republican party voting in these republican primaries , they're not sold on this. and i think senator mccain found that when he went back to arizona. it's going to happen time and time again. and they do have to bring them along.
>> it's going to be tough in louisiana, too, isn't it?
>> mary landrieu . is mary, the democratic senator, going to talk about we need immigration reform ?
>> i'll let her speak for herself. the argument to make is you're rewarding people out of here illegally. that's not what you should do. there are many arguments against that that i agree with. she's right, the border , for whatever reason, it might be because of our economy. it might be because of increased security . it might be because of mexico 's economy, but there are fewer people crossing the border than there have been in a long, long time. they can make that case that there's been real progress made there.
>> and it's not just the republican primary voters. i mean, when you ask 70% of americans think that we should have tighter border security before or at the same time as immigration reform . that's 70% of people think that. it's not just the primary voters.
>> and it is, i mean, majority of americans do support that reform. so i wonder, is this a message that the president's going to start trying to get out more aggressively as they go into the immigration debate ?
>> i mean, this is his political capital . it's unbelievable that, you know, six years ago during the immigration debate , you have people who are progressives fighting border security , and the republicans had the upper hand. those people came to the white house , and what did they start doing? they started deporting record numbers of people, 1.5 million people. they've alienated -- of course, it's not surprising, but they've alienated their base. and so they're hoping that that's going to pay off now in this debate. and the question is whether it will.
>> they deported a lot of people, and as james suggested, a lot of self-deportation because our economy has just not been as strong as it was back, obviously, from 2000 to 2008 when we had an awful lot of illegal immigrants coming in.
>> elizabeth dwoskin, thank you so much from "bloomberg businessweek." tomorrow we'll have tom friedman from "the new york times" and secretary of housing and urban development , shean donovan .
>>> and coming up, a dramatic cover story for this week's "time" magazine into what's really destroying our health care system and costing us billions of dollars. more " morning joe " when we come back. the patient,