Making U.S. borders absolutely secure is an understandable but unachievable aspiration. Yet this goal has been turned into an insurmountable obstacle facing anyone who dares to initiate a conversation about comprehensive immigration reform.

Yet El Paso, directly across on the U.S. side of the border, is one of the safest communities in the United States – second behind Honolulu.

Battling the widespread perception that U.S. border cities have become more dangerous, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on Monday called on public officials to stop exaggerating the violence on the U.S. side of the border with Mexico and “be honest with the people we serve.”

A new internet video, entitled, “2 girls undermine entire US border strategy in under 18 seconds” is causing quite a stir. It’s already received nearly 1/2 a million hits on YouTube and is sure to continue to spark debate. Watch it.

“Having worked the border since ’93 when I was the U.S. attorney in Arizona, there is more federal law enforcement than ever before, more technology than ever before, more infrastructure than ever before, more efforts with state and local law enforcement than ever before and a much more robust relationship with the Mexican federal government than we’ve ever seen before.”

Building on race-baiting campaigns that demonize immigrants and deploy Spanish-language ads to suppress Latino turnout, many 2010 Republican candidates have embraced a disturbing new vision for U.S. immigration policy. The vision, touted recently by high-profile Republican Senate candidates Christine O’Donnell in Delaware, Mark Kirk in Illinois, and Joe Miller in Alaska, would involve closing borders, walling off the U.S., and embracing the Iron Curtain as a model for our future.

The Border Patrol made about 463,000 arrests during the federal government’s fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, down from 556,032 the previous 12 months. It marks the fifth straight year of declines.

Although immigration and border security have become issues in every major race in the state because of Senate Bill 1070, the debate is especially fierce in the 8th Congressional District, which includes a 114-mile stretch of the border.

Traveling from New York City to Buffalo on Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited last month, I wondered what I would say if Border Patrol agents showed up on the train at Syracuse or Rochester and asked, “Are you a U.S. citizen?”

Remember candidate Barack Obama? The one who recognized that mass deportation was a failed strategy that tore communities apart, and knew that comprehensive reform was the only lasting solution?