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Rick Perry on Immigration

Republican Governor (TX)


US-Mexican border security helps the entire hemisphere

Q: What could we be doing with the Mexican government to help stop these drug cartels?

PERRY: Well, let me kind of broaden it out. I think it's time for a 21st century Monroe Doctrine. What we put in place in the 1820s, we then used it again in the 1960s with the Soviet Union. We're seeing countries start to come in and infiltrate. We know that Hamas and Hezbollah are working in Mexico, as well as Iran, with their ploy to come into the US. The idea that we need to have border security with the US and Mexico is paramount to the entire western hemisphere. So putting that secure border in place with strategic fencing, with the boots on the ground, with the aviation assets, and then working with Mexico in particular, all of those together can make that country substantially more secure and our borders secure. As the President, I will promise you one thing, that within 12 months of the inaugural, that border will be shut down, and it will be secure.

Source: 2011 CNN National Security GOP primary debate , Nov 22, 2011

We have Texas Rangers patrolling the border

Q: To date, it appears that you have not tried to stop the illegals from coming. How do you feel being criticized by a number of these other candidates on the stage for being too soft on immigration?

PERRY: I feel pretty normal getting criticized by these folks, but the fact of the matter is this: there is nobody on this stage who has spent more time working on border security than I have. For a decade, I've been the governor of a state with a 1,200-mile border with Mexico. We put $400 million of our taxpayer money into securing that border. We've got our Texas Ranger recon teams there now. I supported Arizona's immigration law by joining in that lawsuit to defend it. Every day I have Texans on that border that are doing their job.

Source: 2011 GOP Google debate in Orlando FL , Sep 22, 2011

You don't have a heart if you don't educate immigrant kids

Q: [to Romney]: In Massachusetts, you vetoed legislation to provide interstate tuition rates to the children of illegals. Gov. Perry signed the Texas Dream Act to do exactly that, arguing that it's better to get these kids an education and to get them jobs than to consign them just to being a burden on the state.

ROMNEY: It's an argument I just can't follow. If you're an illegal alien, you get an in-state tuition discount of $22,000 a year. That shouldn't be allowed.

PERRY: If you say that we should not educate children who have come into our state for no other reason than they've been brought there by no fault of their own, I don't think you have a heart. We need to be educating these children, because they will become a drag on our society. I think that's what Texans wanted to do. Out of 181 members of the Texas legislature, when this issue came up, only four dissenting votes. This was a state issue. Texans voted on it. And I still support it greatly.

Source: 2011 GOP Google debate in Orlando FL , Sep 22, 2011

A 2000-mile fence makes no sense; need boots on the ground

Q: You say that Gov. Perry's opposition to building a border along the entire fence shows that he is a "big government moderate."

SANTORUM: Yes, I would say that he is soft on illegal immigration. I think the fact that he doesn't want to build a fence --in 2001 he talked about buying national health insurance between Mexico and Texas. I mean, I don't even think Barack Obama would be for buying national health insurance. So I think he's very weak on this issue of American sovereignty and protecting our borders and not being a magnet for illegal immigration, yes.

PERRY: The idea that you are going to build a wall, a fence for 1,200 miles, and then go 800 miles more to Tijuana, does not make sense. You put the boots on the ground. We know how to make this work. You put the boots on the ground; you put the aviation assets in the ground.

SANTORUM: But putting the assets--it's not working, Governor.

PERRY: No, it's not working because the federal government has not engaged in this at all.

Source: 2011 GOP Google debate in Orlando FL , Sep 22, 2011

Failed federal responsibility to secure the border

There's not anybody on this stage that's had to deal with the issue of border security more than I have, with 1,200 miles of border with Mexico. And our federal government has been an abject failure at securing our border. We've had to spend some $400 million of Texas taxpayer dollars to send Texas Ranger recon teams down there. But the idea that you're going to build a wall from Brownsville to El Paso and go left for another 800 miles to Tijuana is just not reality. What you have to have is boots on the ground. You've got to have 450 Border Patrol agents trained up, 1,500 National Guard troops. You've got to have the aviation assets in the air putting real-time information down to the law enforcement. We understand and know how to secure that border, but we can't do it alone. And the federal government has to step up and do what their constitutional duty is, and that is to secure the border with Mexico.
Source: 2011 GOP Tea Party debate in Tampa FL , Sep 12, 2011

Discounted in-state tuition regardless of immigration status

SANTORUM: Gov. Perry provided in-state tuition for illegal immigrants.

PERRY: If you've been in Texas for 3 years, if you're working towards your college degree, and if you are working and pursuing citizenship, you pay in-state tuition there. And the bottom line is it doesn't make any difference what the sound of your last name is. That is the American way. No matter how you got into that state, from the standpoint of your parents brought you there or what have you. I'm proud that we are having those individuals be contributing members of our society rather than telling them, you go be on the government dole.

Q: Is that basically the DREAM Act?

PERRY: I'm not for the DREAM Act that they are talking about in D.C.; that is amnesty. What we did in the state of Texas was clearly a states right issue. We were clearly sending a message to young people, that we believe in you. That if you want to live in Texas, that we're going to allow you the opportunity to be contributing members.

Source: 2011 GOP Tea Party debate in Tampa FL , Sep 12, 2011

Let illegals contribute to society & pursue citizenship

ROMNEY: Of course we do not give instate tuition credits to people who come here illegally. That only attracts people to come here and take advantage of America's great beneficence.

PERRY: We basically had a decision to make. Are we going to give people an incentive to be contributing members of this society or are we going to tell them no, we're going to put you on the government dole? In the state of Texas, and this is a states right issue, if in Massachusetts you didn't want to do it, that's fine. But in the state of Texas where Mexico has a clear and a long relationship with this state, we decided it was in the best interest of those young people to give them the opportunity to go on to college and to have the opportunity. They're pursuing citizenship in this country rather than saying, we're going to put you over here and put you on the government dole for the rest of your life. We don't think that was the right thing to do. And it's working. And it's working well in the state of Texas.

Source: 2011 GOP Tea Party debate in Tampa FL , Sep 12, 2011

El Paso border is not safe until we have boots on the ground

Q: What would make the border secure?

PERRY: Well, the first thing you need to do is have boots on the ground. We've had a request in to this administration since 2009 for 1,000 border patrol agents or National Guard troops, and working towards 3,000 border patrol. That's just on the Texas border. There's another 50% more for the entire Mexican border. So you can secure the border, but it requires a commitment of the federal government of putting those boots on the ground, the aviation assets in the air. We think predator drones could be flown, that real-time information coming down to the local and the state and the federal law enforcement. And you can secure the border. And at that particular point in time, then you can have an intellectually appropriate discussion about immigration reform. For the President to go to El Paso, Texas, and say that the border is safer than it's ever been, either he has some of the poorest intel in history, or he was an abject liar. It is not safe on that border.

Source: 2011 GOP debate in Simi Valley CA at the Reagan Library , Sep 7, 2011

Secure the Mexican border against drug cartels

Texas has a lot of unique features, including a 1,200 mile international border and a long history of strong relations with Mexico. The security of that border is one of Washington's essential roles yet they continue their record of abject failure in that area.

As a result, we continue to deal with violent Mexican drug cartels who work closely with transnational gangs on our side of the border operating with no regard for the law or respect for life.

The bad actors in Mexico are getting worse, and the risks to our citizens continue to rise along the border and in communities across this country where drugs continue to flow. We need 1,000 National Guard troops to support current law enforcement operations on our border until they can provide those 3,000 more border patrol agents. We also need Predator drones flying along the Texas-Mexico border providing real time intel to our state and local operation centers.

Source: Speech at 2011 Conservative Political Action Conference , Feb 11, 2011

Illegal immigration cost TX $928M in one year

A 2006 report by the Texas comptroller's office estimated the budgetary impacts of illegal immigration in Texas. The report found that approximately 135,000 undocumented students in Texas public schools cost the state $957 million in just the 2004-2005 school year. The comptroller's report cited incarceration and uncompensated health care as the two largest costs associated with illegal immigrants to local government entities in Texas. These two items costs local government $1.44 billion over a one-year period.

Of course, those living in Texas illegally also provide income to the state because of increased economic activity, sales tax, and property taxes (either directly or through rent subsidizing the property owner). But adding the estimated revenues and costs to both the state and local governments, Texas taxpayers were out $928 million in 2005.

Source: Fed Up!, by Gov. Rick Perry, p.121 , Nov 15, 2010

End the notion of sanctuary cities

As we continue to strengthen our border, we must also consider the essential role that federal immigration policy, or the lack thereof, plays in the safety of our citizens and integrity of our state.

After revelations that a Dallas man had set up a cottage industry procuring Texas driver licenses for illegal aliens hailing from countries around the world, I am an even stronger supporter of the DPS initiative to issue specialized, vertical driver licenses, to identify those who have overstayed their visa.

I also support an end to the notion of sanctuary cities. Local government sends the wrong message when they pick and choose what laws they want their peace officers to enforce.

We should also track the citizenship status of those receiving state-funded services so we can get our hands around the financial impact of Washington's failure to handle the immigration challenge. Some may oppose these efforts, but they are commonsense approaches to protecting our citizens' lives and resources.

Source: 2009 State of the State Address , Jan 27, 2009

$100 million investment in a more secure border

I am proposing a $100 million investment in a more secure border. There is no such thing as homeland security without border security. It is not hyperbole to say terrorists view our international border with Mexico as a prime point of entry--that is the conclusion of the U.S. intelligence community.

While the vast majority of people who come here illegally are economic migrants simply seeking a better life, the small percentage seeking to cause us harm don't dress differently. Nor do they put out press advisories in advance of their arrival. They don't want us to know they are here until they have done mortal damage to our people.

I support strategic fencing in urban areas along the border. But I also believe, like border sheriffs, that the best solution involves added manpower, not unmanned walls.

Source: Texas 2007 State of the State address , Feb 6, 2007

Share costs of legal immigration between states & federal.

Perry adopted the National Governors Association policy:


Source: NGA policy HR-2: Immigration and Refugee Policy 01-NGA3 on Feb 15, 2001

Federal government should deal with criminal repatriation.

Perry adopted the National Governors Association policy:



Finally, the Governors are concerned about the large number of deported felons that are returning to the United States. A significant number of the criminal alien felons housed in state prisons and local jails are previously convicted felons who reentered the United States after they were deported. The Governors urge the federal government to provide sufficient funds for proven positive identification systems, like the Automated Fingerprinting Identification System (AFIS), to allow for the expanded use of these systems in the rest of the nation.
Source: NGA policy HR-2: Immigration and Refugee Policy 01-NGA4 on Feb 15, 2001

Import farm workers from Mexico.

Perry signed the Southern Governors' Association resolution:

Source: Resolution of Southern Governor's Assn. on 2002 Farm Bill 01-SGA6 on Sep 9, 2001

Other candidates on Immigration: Rick Perry on other issues:
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Page last updated: Feb 23, 2012