Last night in Waterloo, Iowa, presidential candidate Rick Perry gave a speech and answered policy questions from the audience. Perry took the opportunity to address border security and took a shot at President Obama for saying the border is as "secure and as safe" as it has ever been. You can watch the video here:
"Let me address this issue of illegal immigration. And it's really an issue that has to be addressed. Being the governor of Texas obviously we've got a 1200 mile border. It's something I've been dealing with for a very long time period of time, practically the entire time I was the governor of Texas and unfortunately, the issue is about border security. Two months ago the President of the United States came to El Paso, Texas to give a political speech, stood on the border and said that the border between Texas and Mexico was safer than it had ever been in history. Now I don't know what history books he's reading but it's not the ones I know and it's not the border I know. We're spending $150 million + in our two year budget in Texas to supplement the Border Patrol, to supplement the local sheriffs, to supplement state law enforcement. I put our Texas Ranger Recon teams on the Rio Grande to assist with what is on many places along that border a war zone. We are outgunned. There are places on the U.S.-Mexico border where the drug cartels that the drug cartels have operational control. We're starting to see that violence washing over into the United States. We know there are transnational gangs that are operating in the state of Texas. So you can't even have a conversation about an immigration policy until you first secure the border. That is the first issue that has to be addressed. And I will assure you of one thing, when I become the President of the United States, we will have our military, our National Guard until we get the Border Patrol trained up to have enough boots on the ground to secure that border. We will have aviation assets being flown up and down that border. We will sit and talk with the new Mexican President in 2013, they're electing a new president in 2012 and together in a spirit of coopartion, because frankly if they don't work with us, Mexico has the potential to be very very big problem. But we can and we will."
The benefit of Perry's strong belief in the 10th Amendment gives the impression that he would allow states to deal with immigration policy and securing the border at a local level, and considering illegal immigration is an issue states bear the burden of at the local level, Perry may be a good option. He explained in July 2010 that unless the border is secured, laws punishing illegal immigration are worthless. Which is true. Having an insecure border while trying to get illegal immigration under control is the same as bailing out a sinking boat without plugging the hole in the bottom.
However, as Tom Tancredo pointed out in a recent Politico Op-Ed, Perry may have a strong border security stance, his illegal immigration policy stances are questionable.
When I ran for president in 2008, I tried to pressure the Republican candidates to take a hard line against illegal immigration. For this, Perry called me a racist.
When he first took office as governor in 2001, Perry went to Mexico and bragged about his law that granted “the children of undocumented workers” special in-state tuition at Texas colleges, the first state in the nation to do so.
“The message is simple,” Perry concluded, “educacion es el futuro, y si se puede.” Education is the future, and (echoing Cesar Chavez’s slogan) yes we can.]
Just a few weeks ago, Perry defended his decision to give in-state tuition to illegal immigrants. He said “to punish these young Texans for their parents’ actions is not what America has always been about.”
Perry opposed Arizona’s tough anti-illegal immigration law SB 1070. “I have concerns,” he explained, “with portions of the law passed in Arizona and believe it would not be the right direction for Texas.”
He spoke out last year against using E-Verify to prevent illegal immigrants from getting jobs as state employees, who get their paychecks from the taxpayers. He insisted it “would not make a hill of beans’ difference.”
Numbers USA, a group that supports immigration control, gives Perry a “D-“ for his positions supporting amnesty, open borders, and opposing border security.
And Kerry Picket of the Washington Times asks: Do Conservatives Want Perry's DREAM Act too?
In the midst of a number of conservatives believing Governor Rick Perry, Texas Republican, is the GOP's answer to taking on President Barack Obama, squishy aspects of Mr. Perry's background are being overlooked. As a border state governor, Mr. Perry signed state immigration law in 2001 known as the Texas DREAM Act. Here is an excerpt from a speech Governor Perry gave during the border summit in August of 2001: (bolding is mine)
As a compassionate state, we know that for our children to succeed, they must not only be healthy, but educated. The future leaders of our two nations are learning their fractions and their ABC’s in classrooms all along this border. Immigrants from around the world are being taught in Texas classrooms, and our history is rich with examples of new citizens who have made great contributions. We must say to every Texas child learning in a Texas classroom, “we don’t care where you come from, but where you are going, and we are going to do everything we can to help you get there.” And that vision must include the children of undocumented workers. That’s why Texas took the national lead in allowing such deserving young minds to attend a Texas college at a resident rate. Those young minds are a part of a new generation of leaders, the doors of higher education must be open to them. The message is simple: educacion es el futuro, y si se puede.
Sound familiar? It should. For those political observers who may not pay too much attention to Texas politics but watch their representatives on Capitol Hill, they may remember that Democrats in the Senate have tried repeatedly and failed to pass the DREAM Act and even after the House passed the legislation in late 2010 during the lame duck session before the Republicans took the majority, Senate Democrats did not find the numbers to overcome a likely filibuster.
As Perry said, you can't even begin to talk about what to do with illegal immigration until the border is secure, especially since drug cartels control many parts of America along the Southern border with Mexico. Perry has repeatedly asked for National Guard troops to be stationed along the border and has been denied the full amount requested multiple times by the feds. There is a distinct difference between Perry's illegal immigration policy stance and his border security stance.
And if "Si Se Puede" sounds familiar to you, this is why:
Katie Pavlich is the Editor at Townhall.com. Follow her on Twitter @katiepavlich. She is a New York Times Best Selling author. Her latest book Assault and Flattery: The Truth About the Left and Their War on Women, was published on July 8, 2014.