We discussed earlier this week some cues we could take from Ellis Island concerning what to do about the
immigration humanitarian crisis that is the thousands of children appearing on our borders, seeking refuge from the gang violence, rape and grinding poverty in their home countries. Happily, Rick Perry has a few ideas of his own.
Well, mainly one. And that’s to send 1,000 National Guard troops to Texas’s southern border. “I will not stand idly by while our citizens are under assault,” said the fearless governor.
The facts? Our country has long needed—and much debated—massive immigration reform. This is not news. And we do, very much, have a humanitarian crisis on our hands. More than 57,000 unaccompanied children without documentation have crossed the border into Texas since October. The children, primarily from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, are filling up facilities faster than officials can open and manage them—and as a result, are often detained in “squalor.”
So what’s prompting Governor Perry’s recent outcry?
Hmm, well, let’s see. He spent this weekend in Iowa . . . his fourth trip there in eight months. Don’t get us wrong, maybe the man has a thing for Iowa, but given that it doesn’t outwardly seem like a hotbed of activity, we doubt the fact that the Hawkeye state will serve as the site for the nation’s first presidential contest is inconsequential. It’s not much a secret that Perry is eyeing another run at the presidency in 2016.
And what did him in last time? Oh, that’s right. In part it was being perceived as “soft” on immigration by some conservatives during a 2012 presidential debate. Then, he defended in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants and said of those who disagreed: “I don’t think you have a heart.”
This round though? None of that bleeding heart nonsense. The opposite, really. In what he’s calling Operation Strong Safety (we’re not kidding), he’s ordered up those 1,000 National Guard troops to the border. And what’s more hardcore than “boots on the ground,” as Arizona representative Matt Salmon put it.
These “boots” though—what are they supposed to do once they arrive? With the troops Perry has called up coming with a $12 million per month price tag (which he expects the federal government to reimburse him for eventually) it seems like ol' Operation Strong Safety better deliver. The thing is, it’s kind of unclear how—or even if—these troops will be helpful. Perry claims they will play a “referring and deterring” role in the crisis, explaining his troops will stop the "drug cartels, human traffickers and individual criminals" who are "exploiting this tragedy."
But. The current humanitarian crisis centers around children—you know the type—innocent and defenseless. Thus we see the logic of Texan congressman Joaquin Castro’s response:
The children fleeing violence in Central America are seeking out border patrol agents. They are not trying to evade them. Why send soldiers to confront these kids? Militarizing our border is the wrong response to the arrival of children.
Representative Oliveira also weighed in with some interesting insight:
I don’t know of one city council member, county commissioner, court or school board member that has requested the militarization of the border. They will have limited authority because they’re soldiers and warriors and not trained in law enforcement.
In conclusion, Rick Perry, we feel you that the “price of inaction is too high.” 100%. We have to applaud any and all efforts to address the devastating issue of thousands of undocumented children fleeing the horrors of their countries into Texas . . . we’re just not sure that’s what you’re really doing.
Image: Wikimedia Commons