At this point in the debate, attention turned to Herman Cain. Said the moderator:
Obviously, over the weekend, you got a lot of headlines by saying you
would have an electrified fence. You then later said it was a joke. And then last night, you said, "It might be
electrified. I'm not walking away from that. I just don't want to offend
anyone." So would you build an entire fence along the entire border, and would you have it be electrified?
And Cain dodged the question! That is to say, the possible frontrunner in the Republican field thinks it is in his strategic interests to maintain ambiguity about whether or not he would electrify a fence along the Mexican border, one that would inevitably shock some Mexicans to death.
For committing a misdemeanor.
Michele Bachmann got to weigh in soon after. "I think the person who really has a problem with illegal immigration in
the country is President Obama," she said. "It's his uncle and his aunt who are
illegal aliens... who've been allowed to stay in this country, despite the fact that they're illegal."
Tallying illegal immigrant relatives is one method for assessing Obama's record. Here's another metric. "The Obama administration deported a record number of illegal immigrants for the third straight year, according to figures released Tuesday by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement," the Los Angeles Times reported this week. "Of the 396,906 deportations from October 2010 through September of this year, more than half were illegal immigrants with felony or misdemeanor convictions, a percentage that has increased steadily since the end of the George W. Bush administration."
And new arrivals?
"American census figures analyzed by the nonpartisan Pew Hispanic Center also show that the illegal Mexican population in the United States has shrunk and that fewer than 100,000 illegal border-crossers and visa-violators from Mexico settled in the United States in 2010, down from about 525,000 annually from 2000 to 2004," the New York Times reports. "Although some advocates for more limited immigration argue that the Pew studies offer estimates that do not include short-term migrants, most experts agree that far fewer illegal immigrants have been arriving in recent years." This shouldn't be surprising given the combination of high unemployment and a housing construction industry that is among the hardest hit by the recession.
Next Perry and Bachmann sparred about whether the border would be better guarded by a double wall or "boots on the ground" and surveillance drones in the sky. Romney then remembered the general election and decided to interject. "Let's step back. I think it's important for us as Republicans on this
stage to say something which hasn't been said. And that is I think every
single person here loves legal immigration. We respect people who come
here legally," he said. "And the reason we're so animated about stopping illegal immigration is
there are 4.5 million people who want to come here who are in line
legally, we want that to happen in an orderly and legal process." If you believe that, you haven't been paying attention -- unless I missed the Republicans on stage last night animatedly insisting over the last couple decades that we need to expedite the process of coming here legally, clearing away the bureaucratic hurdles so that the constantly invoked 4.5 million "folks in line" could get here faster.