In the most recent debate, the issues related to the of securing the border we share with Mexico became heated between Rick Perry and the other candidates. Perry maintained his prior assertion that a border fence was “Nonsense” during questions involving his support of In-State tuition rates for illegal aliens as he made mention again of a combination of ‘boots on the ground‘, planes in the air and a variety of surveillance technology being the answer. Perry drew boos from the crowd with this stance, but it bears mentioning that he has been consistent in this view and the upholding of said view throughout his term as Governor. At the very least, Perry seems to be echoing Obama on Border Security despite his rhetoric to the contrary. Perhaps the boos have their origin due to this similarity:
“There may be areas where it makes sense to have some fencing. But for the most part, having [the] border patrolled, surveillance, deploying effective technology, that’s going to be the better approach,” Mr. Obama said in a primary debate.” – Barack Obama, 2009
The American public has become very aware of the dangers. Hell, National Geograhic has an entire series running called ‘Border Wars‘. The title is more than apt. You’d have to be living under a rock not to have noticed the escalating Cartel violence in Mexico, which has more often than not spilled across into our country. Ranches along the border have been under siege for a long time now – many of which have been taken over by cartels or groups of passing illegal aliens. By all rights, this should be sounding a nationwide alarm in the news, but the press seems uninterested in covering it, leaving citizens to communicate trouble anyway they can amongst themselves.
One only has to do a quick search to see examples, but for the sake of brevity I will list a few here:
- U.S. Border Patrol found a cache of Rocket launchers, assault rifles and explosives inside Texas near the Rio Grande.
- Last year, citizens were warned to stay indoors due to drug violence spilling over into three major U.S. Border cities – two of which were in Texas.
- It’s not just the cartels either, the Mexican military has breached our borders more than once. The most recent incident occurring in Nuevo Laredo:
Gee, a fence would have really been a good thing there huh?
The opinion held by many Americans and the rest of the GOP field is that a fence is required. They also know it’s not some rinky-dink mesh fence with a bit of barbed wire. Border Fence is an entirely different animal. Often it is two fences with a patrolled space in between. The fencing in New Mexico, for example, is reinforced and quite high. There is evidence to suggest that the fence, where it is in place already, has been a deterrent and lead to more captures of illegal aliens than areas with no fence. While true a fence by itself make small dent in keeping illegals out, a fence that is patrolled on a variety of levels does quite a bit. I maintain that it may be easy to scale a fence, but not quite so easy when you have rifles trained on you by border patrol.
Perry has also touted that he has acted when the Federal government has not and been critical of taking government funds on issues like disaster relief – that one came back to bite him in the rear quickly with his own state needing aid due to wildfires. While he has designated large portions of Texas funds to protect the border, it would appear that he is not balking at receiving Federal funds as well. Keeping that in mind, I would invite you to now read a press release from his office from 2004 where he endorses the US-VISIT program and within this release makes the following statement:
“As governor of Texas, I welcome the contributions of millions of Mexican workers who are making a better way for their families in Mexico while building our economy in Texas,” Perry said. “We are counting on the federal government to fully fund security at the border so that trade and commerce are not unnecessarily disturbed, and trucks and vehicles are not subjected to excessive wait times at crossings.”
That same year (2004), Texas received $28.8 million for new truck inspection stations from the US Department of Transportation. In 2009, Perry seemed like he thought he wasn’t getting enough funding or National Guard troops; note the violence statistics in that memo as well as the Virtual Fence references. Flash forward to 2010 and we see Texas getting the biggest slice of the Federal Border funding pie from DHS to the tune of $17 million. I admire his persistence in trying to get blood from a stone. It would seem he got a bit of a trickle there.
Federal funding aside, Perry has taken the position that commerce and trade over the border would be hindered by a fence. He and Ron Paul would make good bedfellows on this point, as Paul was a large proponent of the NAFTA superhighway which would drive a path up from Mexico straight through Texas. What an interesting shared Border Reality, no? So, on one hand we have the gung-ho Perry wanting to secure his border and on the other we hand we have him holding the door open a crack. This duality makes for a bit of a challenge to explain while campaigning when the public clearly has no patience for an unsecured border any longer.