Kyl: Obama Won't Secure Border Until Lawmakers Move on Immigration Package

Fox News (Link) (June 21, 2010)

President Obama is refusing to secure the border until Congress reaches a breakthrough on comprehensive immigration reform, Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl said at a recent town hall meeting.

The No. 2 Senate Republican, in a video clip posted on YouTube showing the senator speaking to a local Tea Party crowd on Friday, said the president told him during a one-on-one meeting in the Oval Office that he was concerned he wouldn't win GOP support on immigration legislation if he took care of border security first.

�The problem is, he said, if we secure the border, then you all won't have any reason to support comprehensive immigration reform,� Kyl said, as the crowd in the room gasped loudly. �In other words, they're holding it hostage.�

The White House denied the claim on Monday. Spokesman Bill Burton and Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer both said Kyl �knows� Obama did not make that comment to him in their meeting.

�The president didn't say that and Senator Kyl knows it,� Pfeiffer said in a written statement. �There are more resources dedicated toward border security today than ever before, but, as the president has made clear, truly securing the border will require a comprehensive solution to our broken immigration system.�

Burton repeated the claim at the press briefing Monday afternoon.

But Kyl's office stood by the senator's account. Kyl spokesman Ryan Patmintra said, �There were two people in that meeting, and Dan Pfieffer was not one of them.� He said Pfeiffer's call for comprehensive immigration legislation �only confirms� Kyl's story.

And later, Kyl himself affirmed to Fox News the accuracy of his version: �I portrayed our conversation totally accurately ... The president cannot say that what I said was incorrect.�

While Obama has pledged to send an influx of National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border, Kyl said in the clip that the president made clear to him that border security is just a political tool in the broader goal of passing an immigration package through Congress.

In the town hall meeting, Kyl said he was �not so sure� the president's concern about GOP support was legitimate, but that regardless, the administration has an �obligation� to secure the border.

�They don't want to secure the border unless and until it is combined with comprehensive immigration reform,� Kyl said. �They frankly don't want to do it. They want to get something in return for doing their duty.�