Rick Perry on Immigration
Republican Governor (TX)
PERRY: I feel pretty normal getting criticized by these folks, but the fact of the matter is this: there is nobody on this stage who has spent more time working on border security than I have. For a decade, I've been the governor of a state with a 1,200-mile border with Mexico. We put $400 million of our taxpayer money into securing that border. We've got our Texas Ranger recon teams there now. I supported Arizona's immigration law by joining in that lawsuit to defend it. Every day I have Texans on that border that are doing their job.
ROMNEY: It's an argument I just can't follow. If you're an illegal alien, you get an in-state tuition discount of $22,000 a year. That shouldn't be allowed.
PERRY: If you say that we should not educate children who have come into our state for no other reason than they've been brought there by no fault of their own, I don't think you have a heart. We need to be educating these children, because they will become a drag on our society. I think that's what Texans wanted to do. Out of 181 members of the Texas legislature, when this issue came up, only four dissenting votes. This was a state issue. Texans voted on it. And I still support it greatly.
SANTORUM: Yes, I would say that he is soft on illegal immigration. I think the fact that he doesn't want to build a fence --in 2001 he talked about buying national health insurance between Mexico and Texas. I mean, I don't even think Barack Obama would be for buying national health insurance. So I think he's very weak on this issue of American sovereignty and protecting our borders and not being a magnet for illegal immigration, yes.
PERRY: The idea that you are going to build a wall, a fence for 1,200 miles, and then go 800 miles more to Tijuana, does not make sense. You put the boots on the ground. We know how to make this work. You put the boots on the ground; you put the aviation assets in the ground.
SANTORUM: But putting the assets--it's not working, Governor.
PERRY: No, it's not working because the federal government has not engaged in this at all.
PERRY: If you've been in Texas for 3 years, if you're working towards your college degree, and if you are working and pursuing citizenship, you pay in-state tuition there. And the bottom line is it doesn't make any difference what the sound of your last name is. That is the American way. No matter how you got into that state, from the standpoint of your parents brought you there or what have you. I'm proud that we are having those individuals be contributing members of our society rather than telling them, you go be on the government dole.
Q: Is that basically the DREAM Act?
PERRY: I'm not for the DREAM Act that they are talking about in D.C.; that is amnesty. What we did in the state of Texas was clearly a states right issue. We were clearly sending a message to young people, that we believe in you. That if you want to live in Texas, that we're going to allow you the opportunity to be contributing members.
PERRY: We basically had a decision to make. Are we going to give people an incentive to be contributing members of this society or are we going to tell them no, we're going to put you on the government dole? In the state of Texas, and this is a states right issue, if in Massachusetts you didn't want to do it, that's fine. But in the state of Texas where Mexico has a clear and a long relationship with this state, we decided it was in the best interest of those young people to give them the opportunity to go on to college and to have the opportunity. They're pursuing citizenship in this country rather than saying, we're going to put you over here and put you on the government dole for the rest of your life. We don't think that was the right thing to do. And it's working. And it's working well in the state of Texas.
PERRY: Well, the first thing you need to do is have boots on the ground. We've had a request in to this administration since 2009 for 1,000 border patrol agents or National Guard troops, and working towards 3,000 border patrol. That's just on the Texas border. There's another 50% more for the entire Mexican border. So you can secure the border, but it requires a commitment of the federal government of putting those boots on the ground, the aviation assets in the air. We think predator drones could be flown, that real-time information coming down to the local and the state and the federal law enforcement. And you can secure the border. And at that particular point in time, then you can have an intellectually appropriate discussion about immigration reform. For the President to go to El Paso, Texas, and say that the border is safer than it's ever been, either he has some of the poorest intel in history, or he was an abject liar. It is not safe on that border.
As a result, we continue to deal with violent Mexican drug cartels who work closely with transnational gangs on our side of the border operating with no regard for the law or respect for life.
The bad actors in Mexico are getting worse, an the risks to our citizens continue to rise along the border and in communities across this country where drugs continue to flow. We need 1,000 National Guard troops to support current law enforcement operations on our border until they can provide those 3,000 more border patrol agents. We also need Predator drones flying along the Texas-Mexico border providing real time intel to our state and local operation centers.
Of course, those living in Texas illegally also provide income to the state because of increased economic activity, sales tax, and property taxes (either directly or through rent subsidizing the property owner). But adding the estimated revenues and costs to both the state and local governments, Texas taxpayers were out $928 million in 2005.
After revelations that a Dallas man had set up a cottage industry procuring Texas driver licenses for illegal aliens hailing from countries around the world, I am an even stronger supporter of the DPS initiative to issue specialized, vertical driver licenses, to identify those who have overstayed their visa.
I also support an end to the notion of sanctuary cities. Local government sends the wrong message when they pick and choose what laws they want their peace officers to enforce.
We should also track the citizenship status of those receiving state-funded services so we can get our hands around the financial impact of Washington's failure to handle the immigration challenge. Some may oppose these efforts, but they are commonsense approaches to protecting our citizens' lives and resources.
While the vast majority of people who come here illegally are economic migrants simply seeking a better life, the small percentage seeking to cause us harm don't dress differently. Nor do they put out press advisories in advance of their arrival. They don't want us to know they are here until they have done mortal damage to our people.
I support strategic fencing in urban areas along the border. But I also believe, like border sheriffs, that the best solution involves added manpower, not unmanned walls.
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