Sunday, September 4, 2011

Perry's Stance on "Strategic Fencing" Does Not Translate to Soft on Immigration

Rick Perry's position on the border fence is not necessarily a weakness.  At a rally in New Hampshire yesterday, Perry said:

"No, I don't support a fence on the border," he said, while referring to the long border in Texas alone. "The fact is, it's 1,200 miles from Brownsville to El Paso. Two things: How long you think it would take to build that? And then if you build a 30-foot wall from El Paso to Brownsville, the 35-foot ladder business gets real good."

Instead, Perry said he supported "strategic fencing" and National Guard troops to prevent illegal immigration and violence from Mexican drug cartels.

According to the AP report, Perry's audience didn't like this answer, but frankly, I don't see anything wrong with it.  

Unless you're going to build something like the Berlin wall with armed guards shooting down those who breach the boundaries, Perry's answer could be a rational one.  He'll have to provide more details to satisfy the Tea Party voters.

In Fed Up, Perry discusses his immigration views.  He acknowledges that drug cartels and drug violence is a huge problem and equates those people to terrorists.  Perry says that the "federal government's actions [on immigration] fall somewhere between raging incompetence and outright dereliction of duty" (119).    No disagreement here.

Perry distinguishes between "border security" and "comprehensive immigration" and makes the case that you must deal with them separately.  Maybe you can legislatively deal with them separately, but one does feed the other.  The incentives for coming illegally must be removed. 

Legal immigration is the way to go, Perry says, but it needs reform:  "The visa  and naturalization system is not working efficiently for anybody," he says.  Deportation is backlogged and most orders are simply unenforced.  Case in point:  Uncle Omar.

Perry even criticizes fellow republican George W. Bush for not doing as much as he'd hoped on enforcing immigration laws already on the books, while at the same time, conceding that Bush did "step up workplace enforcement."  Obama, Perry says, has "reversed course."

Mitt Romney in Tampa this week highlights one of the differences between himself and Rick Perry:

“Our country must do a better job of securing its borders, and as president, I will,” Romney told the Republican National Hispanic Assembly in Tampa, according to his prepared remarks. “That means completing construction of a high-tech fence, and investing in adequate manpower and resources.”
Will Perry's approach to building a high-tech fence at "strategic locations" and using National Guard troops elsewhere cost him enough votes to give Romney the win?  

I think Romney's albatross of RomneyCare will be a bigger problem.

On the other hand, Perry signed into law a bill allowing illegals in Texas in-state tuition, which drew the ire of the Tea Party.  He'll have to do a better job explaining his position in the debates, and I'm sure he will.  The AP and the Obama-media will try to paint Perry as soft on immigration and likely won't report it when Perry clears that up. 

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