Office of the Governor Rick Perry

Washington Has Given Up Border, Is Now Taking On States

By Governor Rick Perry
Thursday, June 28, 2012  •  Austin, Texas  •  Editorial

Instead of sending much-needed help to border states, the federal government is sending lawyers. Instead of boots on the ground, they're delivering subpoenas.

The Supreme Court's recent ruling on Arizona v. United States may mark the point when our nation truly went through the looking glass in terms of border policy. The federal government, long unwilling to adequately secure the border, has now become actively contentious in its efforts to prevent states from taking steps to secure it themselves.

I'll be among the first to say Arizona's immigration law may not have been for every state, but let's not overlook what it was: an earnest attempt by Arizonians to deal with a very real problem facing Arizonians. However, rather than put resources in place so that Arizona wouldn't have to expend state time and resources on this federal responsibility, the Obama administration decided instead to sue them to stop enforcing the laws the administration itself was not willing to enforce.

The verdict proved to be a mixed bag, which preserved the law at the heart of the case, but may have rendered it moot by gutting the framework around it. By picking and choosing what state laws Arizona could implement and which federal programs they'd allow Arizona to participate in, this administration has effectively stripped the state of a wide variety of tools it could have used to deal with the mess Washington itself created.

It should be noted that all this surrounds the Obama administration's recent unilateral decision to effectively ignore entire sections of immigration law, bypassing the legislative process entirely and continuing an established pattern of law enforcement that can be described as piecemeal at best.

As a whole, the Supreme Court's verdict was a disappointment, but it was the mindset behind the initial lawsuit - and the inexplicable actions surrounding it - that should truly concern Americans along the southern border.

If border security were a sinking ship, Washington would ignore the rising water and then write tickets to people who try to bail it out.

In Texas, we understand the challenges of living in a border state. We look across the border and see the ongoing battles between drug cartels, the headlines that pop up almost daily recounting horrific crimes committed there, along with examples of spillover violence, and transnational gangs infiltrating our communities and schools.

From half a continent away, that might not seem like much of a problem. But for many Texans, including farmers and ranchers in the Valley, the threat of spillover violence is a reality they live with every day.

As a result, our state has spent more than $400 million since 2005 to protect our communities and fill in the sizable gaps left by insufficient federal efforts. That money goes to overtime for border officers, state-of-the-art aviation and aquatic assets, and advanced communications and tactical equipment.

The state has also established Joint Operation and Intelligence Centers in each Border Patrol Sector, and created quick-response units - like Trooper Strike Teams and Texas Ranger Recon Teams - that can effectively counter criminal activity in even the most remote areas of the border region.

That's all to fill a role that is a federal responsibility, but a Texas problem.

There are other steps we can take here in Texas. I've recently renewed my call to pass legislation banning sanctuary cities here in the Lone Star State, ensuring local law enforcement has every tool necessary to do their jobs effectively to enforce the law and keep us safe.

Border security is the key to any immigration policy. Without it, any immigration reforms put in place are doomed to fail. A store owner can set prices that are as reasonable and fair as possible, but if the doors and windows are unlocked and unguarded all night, some people will still take the stuff for free.

That is what's most puzzling about the recent steps by the Obama Administration. At a time when the drug wars in northern Mexico are racking up massive body counts, Washington has firmly placed the country in reverse when it comes to securing our border and enforcing our immigration laws, consistently displaying complete disregard for any law that doesn't appeal to them, or what they view as their base.

It's horrible news for Arizona, Texas and other border states, that are seeing their resources stretched thin at the same time the Obama Administration shrinks the pool of options available to those who wish to secure the border and enforce the rule of law.

Governor's Initiatives:
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