Texas Gov. Rick Perry has some nerve. He had the gall to assert in an appearance on ABC’s This Week that the virtual refugee crisis on America’s southern border is not simply a legal problem but a problem of border security. Moreover, Perry seemed to be getting the tinfoil hat treatment when he stood by his claim that the White House doesn’t seem to mind this crisis all that much.
Perry began his contentious interview about border security with ABC’s Martha Raddatz by outlining the multiple petitions he sent Washington seeking redress for the issue of unaccompanied minors crossing the border illegally.
Perry insisted, while conceding that Texas currently has seven border patrol agents per mile, it is not enough.
“This is about a law,” Raddatz pushed back. “This isn’t necessarily about border patrol, this is about a law.” She noted that migrant children from non-contiguous nations, like Honduras and El Salvador, must be taken into the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services in order to comply with a law which George W. Bush signed in 2008 and which Barack Obama is seeking to amend.
Perry didn’t take the bait. “The rule of law is that the Constitution requires the United States to secure the border,” he said.
Raddatz pressed. “Isn’t this a backlog in the courts,” she asked. “Doesn’t that have to be addressed first?”
It does seem self-evidently true that the law protecting migrant children would not come into play if those migrant children were unable to pierce America’s border security so easily. This point did not get a thorough parsing, however, because Perry committed a cardinal sin in the next breath when he suggested that malicious negligence on Obama’s part was at play.
“I don’t believe he particularly cares whether or not the border of the United States is secure,” Perry claimed.
“He’s telling people not to come,” Raddatz interjected. “He’s telling them in ads not to come into the United States.”
“About five years too late,” Perry laughed.
Things began to get tense when Raddatz asked Perry to answer for comments he made on Fox News suggesting there is what she characterized as a “conspiracy” to allow illegal immigrants to enter the U.S.
“They either are inept or don’t care,” the Texas governor insisted.
Raddatz is a strong interviewer, host, and moderator, and the adversarial approach should be applied to both Democrats and Republicans. Perry got a good grilling here, and that serves the audience far better than the accommodating lines of questioning and profile packages which sometimes must suffice for hard-hitting Sunday morning programming.
This was, however, an odd line of questioning to adopt that aggressive posture. The desperate Nicaraguan parents who endeavor to undertake the journey to the United States are not aware of the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008. Even if they are, it is just one of a handful of incentives which keep immigrants flooding over the border. The circumstances these immigrants are escaping are all the incentive they need to make the journey north.
Some say that is an argument for immigration reform, and it is. It is also an argument for increased border security – security which cannot be thwarted by, as the documentarian Alexandra Pelosi documented, tools as simple as a ladder.