Texas Governor Rick Perry has had enough of administration inaction on the border, and has lashed out at President Obama for the predicament his state finds itself in.
Texas is on the front line of the flood of illegal alien children — 60,000 of whom have crossed the border just since October. The governor pointed out that he warned the administration about the problem more than a year ago — and the White House didn’t bother to respond.
Speaking on ABC’s “This Week,” Perry pointed to a letter he sent in May, 2012, that raised concerns about the flow unaccompanied minors. Perry said there was no response from the administration.
“They either are inept or don’t care,” Perry said. “I have to believe that when you do not respond in any way, that you are either inept or you have some ulterior motive.”
“This is a failure of diplomacy, this is a failure of leadership,” he added.
Perry said he does not believe that President Obama “cares whether or not the border of the United States is secure,” adding that “we are paying a huge price.”
Perry said Obama’s comments urging Central American parents not to send their children to the U.S. are coming “about five years too late.”
Perry rejected a comment from U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Gil Kerlikowske, who in an interview earlier in the program said officials were confident they have enough resources.
“He is absolutely and totally wrong,” Perry said.
Perry said last Thursday that the Southern border is less secure today than at any time during the recent past. During a House Homeland Security field hearing in McAllen, Texas, Perry testified that the huge surge of child immigrants streaming over the border has sucked up border patrol resources, forcing agencies to deal with the humanitarian crisis and diverting them away from protecting national security.
Perry again invited President Obama to tour the border on his trip to the state next week, saying the experience would make the president “realize this is bigger than politics.”
The administration’s plan to change the law to allow for quicker deportations of minors from Central America is meeting fierce resistance from immigration activists. The 2008 law gives unaccompanied children from Central America the ability to stay in the country almost indefinitely waiting for a hearing:
First, the Border Patrol must hand them over to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement. HHS must “engage the services of child welfare professionals to act as child advocates and make recommendations regarding custody, detention, release and removal, based upon the best interest of each child,” according to a summary of the law prepared by its main sponsor, Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein. The department must also provide pro bono legal services to the children. It must ensure that any detained child is “placed in the least restrictive setting possible.” It must conduct home studies to facilitate placement. And so on.
“The problem is that under current law, once those kids come across the border, there’s a system in which we’re supposed to process them, take care of them, until we can send them back,” Obama told ABC a few days ago. “It’s a lengthy process.”
It certainly is. And it was never designed to handle a mass influx. Immigration authorities removed somewhere between 1,000 and 2,000 children in this way last year. The administration’s own estimate is that 90,000 will come this year — more than 52,000 are already here. The number could grow even larger next year.
“Every child that is here today — I cannot imagine, at least under this administration, them being removed,” says one GOP Hill aide who works on the issue.
The president says he wants to change the law to allow the minors from Central America to be treated the same as children who illegally cross the border from Mexico or Canada: immediate deportation after a brief interview with an immigration official.
But immigration activists are balking at any change in the law and it is unlikely that Democrats in the Senate would vote to oppose them. Hence, Perry’s concerns that the president doesn’t care about border security seem justified.
The president has no plans to visit the border, despite his upcoming visit to Texas this week. Instead, the president will hold a fundraiser in Dallas and visit Austin the next day for more fundraising. For a man dealing with what most consider a humanitarian crisis, our president seems to be able to find time to make it “business as usual” for himself.