March 14th, 2009
08:27 AM ET

Dear President Obama #54: What border war?

Reporter's Note: The President wants advice. I know what it is like to want something. I once wanted a pony. So I am writing a letter a day to the White House.

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Tom Foreman | Bio
AC360° Correspondent

Dear Mr. President,

Whatever happened to the immigration issue? I’m just a little curious. Seemed like for a while there, you couldn’t swing a dead cat without hitting a member of Congress spewing something about the tide of folks flowing over the border. They were for it. They were against it. They wanted a fence. They didn’t want one. They liked immigrants. They despised them. They said it was a matter of national security. They said it was a matter of human decency. Now they’re not saying anything. We had those huge marches on TV, and the huge counter-marchers in response, and now “nada.”

I feel like I’m hearing plenty about the problems down in Mexico; the drug wars, kidnapping, vague concerns that somehow the government there will collapse and we’ll see anarchy outside of Arizona’s bedroom window. But there seems to be no real serious debate about the overall issues: How secure should our border be? What should we do (if anything) about all the people who are in the country illegally? And what should our immigration policy be in the future?

Trust me when I say I understand if this is an issue you’d rather keep on the back burner. It can be inflammatory to say the least; like grenades in the barbeque grill. The debate is not easily separated from the emotions. There are political ramifications that scare both parties. And there really appear to be few, if any, straightforward answers to all the immigration puzzles.

Still, you made a very compelling case for taking on the health care issue right now by saying there is never really a good time for such difficult work, and if we’re renovating the economy anyway, we might as well throw health care reform in. It’s kind of like we’re redoing the kitchen, so we may as well repaint the laundry room, too. I get that.

So why shouldn’t immigration be part of the debate now? Back during the heat of the immigration battles, an awful lot of folks on both sides of the aisle said our legal attitude toward immigrants is intrinsically tied to our financial future. With all our talk about that future now, it just seems odd that immigration is suddenly not so much on the table.

I understand if it is something you’d rather leave for later. You truly seem to have so much on your hands already, and you may recall I’ve previously cautioned about spreading yourself too thin. But I suspect, sooner or later, it’s going to come creeping up onto your desk.

Going to NY on Monday, so if you are thinking of a lunch meeting, I won’t be around. But call anyway. Would love to hear from you.



For more of the Foreman Letters, go here.

soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. Michael "C" Lorton, Virginia

    Hell--–invite them all to join the "recession,"-–the more the merrier!!!

    March 16, 2009 at 8:39 am |
  2. Deezy

    How convenient,

    The President decides to decrease the tension of war an almost immediately Mexico is takin the heat off of afghanistan...do you really think the middle east is just gonna "forgive & forget" the fact that america raped their country...i don't think so...

    let's hope Obama didn't just 'refuel' the afghan threat, by sending terrorists home..

    March 15, 2009 at 9:06 pm |
  3. Kathy, Chicago

    Congress needs to keep watching Lou Dobbs!

    March 15, 2009 at 8:56 pm |
  4. A. Zane Castaneda

    I am completely outraged about the bonuses that are being given out by AIG to it's executives amid this time of recession. I am an honorably discharged (wartime) vet who lost his GI Bill due to the 10 year cutoff. Why is it that I cannot afford to go to college, but I'm required to bailout and give bonuses to greedy idiots who have run their company into the ground and also helped to contribute to this economic disaster??? Our pursuit of happiness is being shamelessly chocked right out of us and our children, and these guys are laughing their way right out of the candy store that we have given them the keys to! Please, President Obama, help us. If they can afford to give out millions in bonuses, then they can afford to give the money back to we the people........A. Zane Castaneda

    March 15, 2009 at 6:00 pm |
  5. Rachel

    Dear Tom
    Is USA build from immigrants whats the big deal about immigrants? All we want to do is the job that no one wanted to do. If you think about it they pay tax. Everybody is crazy here

    Atlanta GA

    March 15, 2009 at 5:59 pm |
  6. Armando Ponce de Leon Diaz

    Cynicism is not a quality it is decease. The sick find it easy to talk but hard to act. They talk because themselves cannot produce, finds faults on others to avoid on their own impotence. Salud!

    March 15, 2009 at 4:46 pm |
  7. ronvan

    Some things are hard, others easy. The immigration/violence/drug problems on our southern border, for me is simple. Line the border with our military! They have the capability & equipment to put a halt to illegal immigration & drug smugling. As far as the violence in Mexico, that is their problem. However, what would the next step be? These people are not stupid and would find other ways to conduct their business.

    March 15, 2009 at 9:33 am |
  8. Steve

    When will the US finally realize that the war on drugs can never be won. If there is demand there will be supply, Simple economics. The US Government spends billions on fighting the drug dealers and also jailing them both are very expensive, With legalization we can get rid of the mexican cartells and tax the drugs thus creating income of billions rather than wasting billions Some of that income could be used for drug prevention. It is time for change...

    March 15, 2009 at 12:34 am |
  9. Kim

    To what degree over the years not going after the support for results has the US been the enabler of the situation out of control ?

    March 14, 2009 at 3:46 pm |
  10. Kim

    Go Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and she's on it ! Look out and they're going to team up to end this violence. Heard during the primary the million dollar camera's for security didn't work real well. There was discussion of where to run this fence to be effective. Take the marines and McCain with ya Clinton !

    March 14, 2009 at 1:58 pm |
  11. Isabel, Brazil

    Hi, Tom!

    Big question! Big problem, too!

    With unemployment so high, as is the situation of immigrants? I think if there are enough jobs for the Americans, it is difficult for foreign competition.

    What about outsourcing?
    My company works with exactly this, and the crisis was in full upon us.
    We provide services for several U.S. companies and we're only seeing the contracts being terminated – That reason that made me start to 'talk' here in AC360.

    March 14, 2009 at 12:03 pm |