Rick Perry runs for President after serving a long term as the governor of Texas. Texas shares over ½ of the US-Mexican Border with our neighbors to the South. Texas has benefitted from a generally positive historical relationship Mexican migratory workers and has seen some of the best benefits that immigration can offer the United States. Texas also has seen some of the worst. Narcotic traffic, slavery, human smuggling and sadistic violence are also part and parcel with this long stretch of the Mexican Border. Thus Governor Perry has compiled a uniquely contradictory record on immigration and border security that reflects the duality that Texans live with every day.
This is the 3rd part of a three part series on immigration and border security that examines the positions and past histories of the three most popular Republicans currently running for President. Part 1 examined Congresswoman Michele Bachmann. Part two studied Former Governor, Mitt Romney. Today, as with the previous articles, I start with Governor Perry’s stated positions.
Governor Perry is a recent addition to the GOP field. Thus, his campaign website remains an incomplete work in progress at present. Therefore, some of what I present below represents the perceptions that other people have of Rick Perry’s positions on these issues. I apologize if these representations are somewhat inaccurate.
On his Gubernatorial Website, Rick Perry discusses his positions regarding some of the tragic violence that has occurred in Mexico. His statement decrying the current state of border security follows below.
While our focus begins with preventing the worst of the violence currently raging in northern Mexico from spilling over into the United States, the violence is only part of the destruction that can result from a porous border. The free flow of drugs, weapons and people resulting from inadequate security can undercut economic development, education and trade. As such, they can hurt Texas families in every way imaginable, from loss of jobs to the loss of family members to addiction, imprisonment or death.
Governor Perry has approached this issue from the standpoint of a small government conservative. He has worked to help localities near the border put “more boots on the ground” in order to combat problems in these individual localities. In 2005, he and the Texas State Legislature gave The Texas Border Sheriffs Association $6 Million to hire more people to patrol the Mexican Border. This was dubbed Operation Linebacker and operated under the premise that a larger police presence would successfully deter criminal activity along the border.
When Operation Linebacker failed to meet its intended objective, Governor Perry opted for a significantly larger investment in 2008. He viewed this issue with a much greater priority when his state and local law enforcement officials began capturing illegal aliens from Syria, Jordan and Iraq attempting to exploit the still-porous Mexican border. This resulted in significant seizures of narcotics, and gang members from notorious criminal organizations such as MS-13. This was called Operation Border Star and remains in effect at the present with some positive results, but a still unsecured 1,300 mile international border.
Governor Perry’s record on immigration and border security also involves aspects that have been met with significant skepticism. Texas signed a piece of legislation known as the Texas DREAM Act that gave the children of undocumented workers in state tuition at Texas colleges and universities. Many taxpayers rightfully resent the fact that their monies go towards the subsidization of tuition for students whose parents came to the United States illegally. This, I believe is a fair and valid criticism. In my opinion, Governor Perry should never have signed the DREAM Act into law.
He has also been attacked for attempting to improve road access to Mexican traffic thru Texas in accordance with the NAFTA Treaty. This was dubbed Rick Perry’s Highway to Hell, and has become a staple anti-Rick Perry talking point. Opponents of this now defunct project voiced concern that Governor Perry was selling out national security to improve trade and were convinced that this was not a sound risk for him to take. The validity of this attack should perhaps be considered from the viewpoint that it was championed by Jerome Corsi. Corsi remains utterly convinced that President Barack Obama’s Secret Kenyan Birth Certificate is out there somewhere - like The Living Elvis.
Thus, given his unique perspective on border security, Governor Rick Perry offers a set of positions and a past record that is both curious, and at times, vexing. He has been awakened to the cold reality that an unsecured Texas-Mexico Border is an opportunity for criminal activity that turns otherwise quaint and charming border towns into hives of villainy and scum. Thus, despite his belief that the Federal Government should secure a nation’s borders, he has invested significant blood and treasure in stopping narcotics from crossing his state’s borders.
Frustrations over issues such as this may cause him to occasionally rail against inefficient and uncaring governance from Washington, DC to the point where he once mentioned succession. It would be interesting to see how he felt if he were elected, and the shoe were on the other foot.
However, he also comes from a state that has benefitted heavily from the labor of Mexican migrant labor. He weighs this in the balance and tends to favor a policy that allows these people to still enter the country and compete with Americans for employment. In an economy with 9% unemployment, he may have to change his mind, eschew such policies as The Dream Act and take care of American workers first. A failure to do this could encumber his efforts to put unemployed Americans back to work. However, Rick Perry would counter this argumentation by asking which state actually is creating jobs in America today?
In conclusion, Rick Perry has a classically Texan policy towards the border. When people cross the border to work hard and stay out of trouble, he encourages their presence, and welcomes them as a part of the Texan economy. When foreign immigrants sell drugs, traffic in slaves and shoot people up with military-grade weaponry, he sends in The Texas Rangers. He tries to maintain a complicated dichotomy on this issue that will frustrate many Conservative Primary voters and could cause trouble to his Presidential ambitions. He may well have to recognize that Texas is a truly unique state to address issues of immigration and border security in a way that best benefits the other forty-nine states.