Frankly, telling Americans that if they don’t support any particular measure relating to illegal immigration that means they don’t have a heart is insulting. But it’s just as insulting to declare that you’ll build a border fence and be done with it. And it’s insulting for folks who aren’t living in the reality of modern Texas to pick at the state’s DREAM Act from afar as if it’s a monstrous betrayal. The 1,200 mile Texas-Mexico border runs through some wild, rugged country. I used to support a fence along that that border, but the devil’s in the details. Do you put the fence in the middle of the Rio Grande? On one side or the other? Which side? What happens when the river shifts, as it has done many times over the past century or so? A fence in urban areas and along less rugged terrain makes sense, but it’s impractical along much of the Rio Grande. Boots on the ground, drone aircraft, surveillance technology, and serious interior enforcement are the answers, and they’ll never be a perfect answer. But as long as there are sanctuary cities like Houston and Austin within easy reach of the border, serious interior enforcement remains unlikely.

Personally, I don’t like the Texas DREAM Act, but thanks to the federal government’s dangerous irresponsibly — which has grown far worse under President Obama — the state doesn’t have many good options. It deals with the state’s reality, albeit in an imperfect way. Texans are going to pay for the problem, one way or another. The lax border, the state’s economy, and its sanctuary cities all combine to make it a magnet for illegal aliens. Leaving those aliens’ children locked out of the system forever invites trouble at taxpayer expense and, let’s be honest, can alienate the state’s growing legal and native Hispanic population. Forever alienating them from their natural values home in the GOP guarantees only that all of the problems associated with illegal immigration will get worse. But measures like the Texas DREAM Act, while narrowly focused, understandable, and humane, can and probably do increase the power of the illegal immigration magnet.

There aren’t any perfect answers to the border but there is an obvious answer: Enforce the entire border as a national security priority. The next president must lead and secure the border. I trust that Gov. Perry would do that, as would most of the GOP candidates for the presidency. The next president must not sue states that attempt enforcement, as President Obama is doing, but must work with them. Congress must come down on sanctuary cities as violators of federal law, using the might of the federal purse to force the sanctuary cities’ hands, and they must come down on the employer side of the problem as well. Anything less will not be serious, and will likely make all of the problems and expenses associated with illegal immigration worse.

Do all of that, and states like Texas will not have to deal with DREAM Acts at all.