December 07, 2006
Perry: We don't need no stinking fence

Now that he has safely been re-elected, Governor Perry can finally say what anybody with two brain cells to rub together already knows, which is that building a fence along the US-Mexico border is "preposterous".

Gov. Rick Perry, who built his re-election campaign on border security, told a gathering of border mayors today that building a wall along the border with Mexico is a "preposterous" idea.

"Now, strategic fencing in certain urban areas to direct the flow of traffic does make sense, but building a wall on the entire border is a preposterous idea," Perry said.

"The only thing a wall would possibly accomplish is to help the ladder business."

While Perry always opposed fencing the border, his re-election campaign de-emphasized that position.

Perry ran millions of dollars of television advertising portraying the border as an open zone of human and drug smuggling and as a potential pathway for terrorists. He launched a program to put live Internet cameras along the border and said he would ask the Legislature for $100 million for border security.

The campaign was widely seen as an effort to appeal to a Republican voting base angry at the federal government for failing to act to halt illegal immigration from Mexico and Central America.

Perry told the Texas Border Coalition that the national anti-immigrant rhetoric of the political campaigns was not constructive.

"We just concluded an election year that was very heavy on immigration rhetoric, and, I might add, very light on comprehensive solutions," Perry said.

Made for some pretty effective campaign strategy, though. Gotta give credit where it's due. Perry knew who his voters are, and he knew how to talk to them.

Speaking of campaign talk, by the way, Houtopia recalls Chris Bell using a similar line about fences and ladders. Just thought I'd mention it.

The governor also said he believes legislation that has been filed in the Texas House to do away with "birthright citizenship" is divisive.

State Rep. Leo Berman, R-Tyler, has a bill that would challenge a U.S. constitutional interpretation that gives automatic citizenship to everyone born in the United States. Berman's bill would deny such citizenship to anyone born to parents who are in the country illegally.

That's very encouraging, Governor. Does that mean you'll veto Rep. Berman's bill if it or something like it manages to pass the Lege? That's the key question.

Oh, and since we brought up the border webcams, they're on hiatus, at least for now.

The Texas border-watch test site closed Nov. 30.

The 27-day test cost twice as much as officials had anticipated. But because of the nearly 28 million hits to the Web site, Gov. Rick Perry's spokesman declared the initial launch of the virtual neighborhood watch program a success. A permanent program is expected to be in operation sometime next year.

"This is one tool of many the state is using to combat illegal activity along the border," [Perry spokesman Robert] Black said.

From Nov. 3 through Nov. 30, Black said, more than 221,000 viewers registered on, generating nearly 15,000 report e-mails.

Black said no data were available yet on the number of apprehensions resulting from reports made through the Web site.

That's a rather important data point, isn't it? It's nice that people tuned in and all, but if we just spent $200K for 12 cameras (and Perry has promised to spend up to $5 million for 200 cameras), shouldn't we know if they, like, actually help? And though I realize this was just a pilot, was there some kind of benchmark for these things, as in "we think they'll lead to X apprehensions, of which Y will involve drugs"? Doesn't have to be anything other than somebody's wild guess. Just some number we can then compare to later. Was there ever such a number, or were we basically just doing this for grins? That's the point of pilot programs, after all - to see if what you're test driving is worth the cost and effort. All I want to know is if we have some means to try and answer that now that the pilot is over.

On the plus side, at least we'd be spending a lot less than eight billion dollars to see if this technology is effective. So there's that to be grateful for.

El Paso Times link via Pink Dome. And click the More link for a statement by People for the American Way in response to Perry's remarks.

Statement from People for the American Way:

"We welcome Gov. Perry's new, more constructive tone on immigration issues. He understood one of the central messages of the recent elections - that immigrant bashing is not only mean spirited and counter productive, it is also politically unpopular, especially in Texas.

"We're particularly glad he spoke out against the short sighted and imprudent bills filed by Representatives Leo Berman, Burt Solomons and others that would cut off immigrants' rights and access to education. Gov. Perry realizes what these legislators apparently do not - that the economic and social future of Texas depends on a healthy, well-educated workforce that, like it or not, will continue to be increasingly Hispanic. Let's hope the governor's new tone translates into an equally constructive legislative agenda

"We are working with the business community, church leaders and other civic and community organizations to promote real, substantive immigration reform at the national level and to oppose proposals that appeal to fear, division and racism. We look forward to working with the Governor on these and other issues"

Posted by Charles Kuffner on December 07, 2006 to National news | TrackBack

Ask me Saturday about PSDS2, and I'll give you the technical side of it. Bottom line, we've got a system in production and the $8B won't be for software/hardware but for operating costs...

Posted by: Michael on December 7, 2006 9:05 AM