White House spokesman Jay Carney wholeheartedly embraced Republican calls for more border agents as a way to reach an immigration compromise, saying such a deal “would constitute a breakthrough.”
The Obama administration has previously boasted that there are more border agents than ever before and deportations are at their highest level. When asked why the White House would support more border agents, Carney said more work can always be done to strengthen border security.
“The president made clear, when he outlined his principles for comprehensive immigration reform, that enhanced border security needed to be a central element to this process and to any comprehensive immigration reform legislation,” Carney told reporters during his regular daily briefing Friday. “So that has been a priority of his from the beginning.”
When asked if a compromise amendment, written by Sens. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., and John Hoeven, R-N.D., that would provide an agent for every thousand feet of the U.S. border with Mexico, was overkill, Carney said he wouldn’t evaluate it before it was finalized but suggested that the White House believes the U.S. could improve its interdiction of illegal immigrants at the border.
The Corker-Hoeven amendment would provide $30 billion in new funds for border security and the requirement that it be spent on a surge of 20,000 border security agents and the completion of a 700-mile fence.
The White House’s encouraging words for Corker and Hoeven’s work came after a report in Politico that President Obama worked behind the scenes to table Sen. John Cornyn’s border security amendment.
Cornyn’s language would have blocked citizenship for existing illegal immigrants unless the Department of Homeland Security reached a 90 apprehension rate of illegal border crossers.
According to the report, Obama nixed the Cornyn amendment during a phone call with Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., while traveling on Air Force One earlier this week while in Europe.