Republicans Blast Obama's Immigration Speech

President Obama blamed Republicans Thursday for the impasse on immigration reform, as he called the new Arizona law “divisive” and claimed the border was “more secure today than at any time in the past 20 years.”

Republicans responded quickly after Obama’s first major address on immigration reform, saying the speech was heavy on rhetoric and short on specifics.

“This was the patented Obama policy speech,” Rep. Dan Burton (R.-Ind.) told HUMAN EVENTS. “Short on details and long on emotions. We’ve been through this process with the President before. Today, he calls for bipartisanship, but tomorrow he’ll link arms with Speaker Pelosi and try to ram amnesty down our throats.”

Rep. Rob Bishop (R.-Utah) said, “It is clear to me, more now than ever before, that President Obama and his administration just don’t get it. Today’s remarks, which were heavy on rhetoric and light on substance, don’t inspire confidence that this administration has a concrete plan, or even the desire, to achieve full operational control of the border.”

In his speech Obama said he was “ready to move forward” with immigration reform. “But the fact is, without bipartisan support, as we had just a few years ago, we cannot solve this problem.”

“Reform that brings accountability to our immigration system cannot pass without Republican votes. That is the political and mathematical reality,” said Obama.

Rep. John Shadegg (R.-Ariz.) said that this is just not true. “This statement on its face is ridiculous,” Shagegg said. “He didn’t seem to feel that way when it came to healthcare. He didn’t give a darn how Republicans voted.”

The bi-partisanship of “a few years ago” that Obama spoke of, was a bill by Sen. John McCain (R.-Ariz.). But a majority of Americans opposed the McCain-Kennedy measure and many dubbed it the amnesty bill.

“John McCain and the 11 Republicans who were on board with that… I think they learned their lesson in 2007, that it was incredibly unpopular among voters,” said Ira Mehlman, National Media Director of the Federation for American Immigration Reform.

“The 2007 bill was defeated because there was an uprising from grassroots and the public simply said, ‘No, we will not accept this,’” said Mehlman.

Rep. Bishop said that the one issue that transcends party lines is border security. “Trying to reform immigration policies before we secure the border is foolish. If your bathtub is overflowing, you don’t deal first with the water already in the tub. You first turn off the faucet to stop the flow. We can’t solve the immigration issue without stopping the flow by first securing the border,” said Bishop.

In his speech Obama said the Southern border is “more secure today than at any time in the past 20 years.”

“He has been misinformed,” responded Bishop. “In reality, the porous Southern border is one of the greatest threats to our national security and it’s well known that things are getting worse, not better. Apprehensions may be down but it’s widely known that it’s not due to less trafficking and smuggling, but rather to our inability to adequately capture the criminals as they enter the U.S.”

Obama called the controversial new Arizona illegal-immigration law “ill conceived” and “divisive,” saying it made America streets more dangerous.

Rep. Burton, author of the “No Sanctuary for Illegals Act,” said, “While I doubt that an endangered Democratic caucus wants to rock the boat this summer, if they move forward with an amnesty initiative, Republicans are ready to counter with better plans that focus on law enforcement on the border and in the business place.”

Melhman similarly said, “A lot of Democrats out there would be happy not to have to stick their necks out there on this. There are a lot of Democrats who were elected in 2006 and 2008 that come from districts that used to be held by Republicans, the purple districts, I’m not sure that this is what they want to take home to their voters”

Rep. Peter Roskam (R.-Ill.) told HUMAN EVENTS that the disappointment in Obama’s approach is his lack of recognition of how generous the United States has been to immigrants.

“This notion that somehow the United States and the American taxpayers haven’t been generous towards immigrants is a non-starter. Ultimately this is all politics and they are not serious about moving a bill.”