The Perry Problem

In Nevada, though, immigrants increased their workforce numbers by just over 1 percent while native-born unemployment nearly tripled from 4.2 percent to 11.9 percent.

The figures in Arizona showed a different story, as their crackdown on illegal immigrants may have played a role in reducing the immigrant working population by about 6 percent. However, it's more likely the overall economic climate in Arizona played the biggest part, as the unemployment rate among native workers surged threefold from 3% to nearly one in ten, so there are fewer jobs for everyone in that state, regardless of status.

In short, your mileage may vary.

Obviously Perry backers would discount the source of the report as a notoriously nativist organization which would like to seal up the borders and not allow anyone to come to our shores. While there's always the old saw about lies, damned lies, and statistics in this particular line of discussion, the Center for Immigration Studies turned the raw numbers they researched into a question worth asking: who is benefiting from the federal government's lax border security?

In his decision to adopt the Texas in-state tuition policy back in 2001, Rick Perry weighed the costs of doing nothing and perhaps dooming these children to menial employment or crime against rewarding the illegality of the parents who crossed the border without the proper paperwork. But one provision of the law which mandates that students taking advantage of in-state tuition must eventually apply for citizenship isn't being followed up -- so beneficiaries may yet be illegal immigrants.

The fallback position for Perry in this controversy continues to be that the in-state tuition issue was something thrust upon him by a federal government unwilling to do its job. Should he win, though, Rick Perry won't be at the mercy of the federal government in Texas anymore; instead, he'll be the one in charge of border security. And while he rightfully notes building a fence along the entire border may well be impractical, our border states are staring at a powderkeg just across  an artificial line of demarcation which hasn't deterred crossing or criminal activity by those who can profit. The ethnicity of the criminal doesn't really matter to the victim; they've still been harmed.

The question isn't whether Rick Perry is the right choice for those concerned about border security, because he's already dismissed the idea of completely walling off the Mexican border. Instead, one needs to wonder whether he'll continue the open-border policies of his predecessors and allow the labor market to continue rewarding those who come across illegally at the expense of those legal residents who would be happy to perform some of these jobs. The Texas record shows he just might.