Texas Gov. Perry joins N.H. GOP for call on border crisis
Gov. Rick Perry speaks during a news conference in the Governor's press room, Monday, July 21, 2014, in Austin, Texas. Gov. Perry announced he is deploying up to 1,000 National Guard troops over the next month to the Texas-Mexico border to combat criminals that Republican state leaders say are exploiting a surge of children and families entering the U.S. illegally. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Texas governor and possible Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry joined the New Hampshire Republican Party yesterday in blaming the border crisis on the policies of President Obama and U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen.
Perry’s comments, given during a press call with party Chairwoman Jennifer Horn, came the day after Scott Brown released a TV ad focused on securing the border. He followed up with a similar radio ad yesterday. Brown was not on the call, and Perry said he is not endorsing any candidate in the Republican primary. Brown will face Jim Rubens and Bob Smith on Sept. 9 for the nomination to challenge Shaheen.
Tens of thousands of children from Central America have crossed the border this year, overburdening the country’s immigration courts and creating a humanitarian crisis. Under law, children from Central America must go through the hearing process and cannot be sent back to their home countries immediately. Congress is now deciding how to tackle the problem, including whether to approve a billion-dollar spending request by Obama.
Perry sent 1,000 National Guard troops to the border last week. During the call, he said he gave Obama several suggestions for how to secure the border during a recent visit in Texas, including having the Federal Aviation Administration authorize the use of drones along the border to monitor activity.
“Obviously I have made a decision that we can no longer wait for Washington to act,” he said.
Perry hit Shaheen and Obama for what he calls pro-amnesty policies, a term Brown has also used to describe Shaheen’s stance on immigration. Shaheen supported the DREAM Act, which would have let children brought to the U.S. illegally become citizens and voted for a comprehensive immigration reform bill last year that included a path to citizenship for people already here. He also said Shaheen hasn’t supported efforts to secure the border.
“Obviously people who come illegally into this country, they don’t stop at the border states,” Perry said. “They come up all the way to states like New Hampshire, and when you look at the issue from a national security standpoint, you cannot have national security if you don’t have border security.”
Last year’s immigration reform bill included an amendment co-sponsored by U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte aimed at strengthening border security. It was known as the “border surge” amendment, and Shaheen also voted for it. Key reform aspects of the bill would not go into effect until border security measures, such as creating 700 miles of new fencing and deploying 38,000 border agents, were completed, according to a report by the American Immigration Council. The bill also included the DREAM Act, which Brown has highlighted his opposition to, and it said it marks a clear difference between his and Shaheen’s policies. The Senate passed the bill, but the U.S. House of Representatives never voted on it.
“The fact is that Jeanne Shaheen voted to strengthen border security with comprehensive immigration reform, just like Kelly Ayotte,” said Harrell Kirstein, Shaheen’s campaign spokesman. “Partisans like Rick Perry, Scott Brown and House Republicans are standing in the way of this bipartisan solution.”
While Perry kept the call focused on the border issue, his participation invited speculation about his presidential ambitions. Perry largely flubbed his 2012 presidential bid, but has been making moves that indicate he’s ready to make another run. He invited prominent New Hampshire Republicans to Texas several months ago and will visit the state next month.
The New Hampshire Democratic Party sent out a release criticizing Perry for his stance on LGBT issues and linked the call directly to Brown, who did not participate. At issue were comments Perry made recently comparing homosexuality to alcoholism.
“Rick Perry’s brand of discrimination isn’t welcome in New Hampshire,” party Chairman Ray Buckley said in a statement.
(Kathleen Ronayne can be reached at 369-3309 or firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @kronayne.)