Friday, September 23, 2011

Perry's Immigration positions: "How they must be interpreted."

Many conservatives are confused with Texas Governor, Rick Perry's immigration position. With the recent debate tone it's easy to understand why!

Texas waived out-of-state tuition for children of illegal aliens. As Mitt Romney correctly underscored, it amounted to about $22,000 per year in savings for these students. "Why would Governor Perry defend such an action?"

Some have suggested that Governor Perry may be "soft" on illegal immigration. If he were not, why would he oppose the building of fences along Texas' 1200 mile border?

Interestly enough the questions mostly came from three Republican candidates from "blue states:" Michelle Bachmann, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum. The questions seemed fair and pertinent. Yet, in hearing Governor Perry's response, I came away with the feeling that he was attempting to educate novices on both subjects.

Let's look at the tuition question first. These students were children of illegal aliens. They were not anchor babies. They had entered the country with their parents legally. Their parents came to the country on visas that were generally education or religious in nature. The visas expired. The children meanwhile had attended and graduated from Texas public schools. They had legally applied for citizenship. Should they have been afforded exemption from out-of-state tuition? All but four of the Texas Congressmen and Senators thought so! Were they wrong? They didn't think so. Neither did Governor Perry. Almost unanamously they concluded that it was "a Texas thing." On that subject, they were 100% correct. It is a decision that should be made on the state level. They made it.

Republicans from these "blue" states often don't connect with border issues. They simply have no experience. It is likely that Michelle Bachmann knows as much about this subject as Rick Perry knows about "ice fishing for Walleye at Lake of the Woods." Romney is as familiar with the naturalization process as Perry is fluent on the joys of "polo matches at Martha's Vineyard."

True it arouses the conservative base with anti-Hispanic resentment. But this is a clear ticket to losing the general election. Neither Bachmann or Romney have connected with Latinos. Republicans must win 40% of the Hispanic vote. It is doubtful that either Bachmann or Romney can capture 20% of this crucial vote. That's why I do not think that either can defeat Barack Obama in the general election. No matter how awful the economy may be next year!

Governor Perry held his ground. In doing so he demonstrated conviction. It gets down to two things: "do the individual states have the right to make this call?" And, "are we willing to look at immigration on a case-by-case basis?" True, most of the Republican base doesn't agree with him. But the position reflects practicality,compassion and wisdom. It could ultimately be a winning position in the general election.

What about the border fences? Doesn't his lack of enthusiasm for them prove that the Texas Governor is "soft" on illegal aliens?

Actually, he knows that they won't work! This comes from being Governor of a state that shares a 1200 mile border with Mexico. Perry is correct in that "boots on the ground," as in soldiers are needed to get the job done. Only experience in having grown-up, lived and governed such a state can true understanding of the problem be manifested. For Romney and Bachmann it might translate to good politics. Taking exception to Perry's position will always score short term points with the base. But what about the long term?

While staunch conservatives may be disappointed in Perry's position, it must be remembered that Barack Obama will not take issue with either the tuition waiver or the fence in the general election. He will position both Bachmann and Romney as anti-Hispanic. With Perry, this will be difficult it not impossible.

It is easy enough for Bachmann and Romney to question Perry's actions. But what would have they done if placed in Perry's chair? As the old Cherokee proverb went, "Don't pass judgment on another until you have walked in their moccasins for three days."

The fence conclusion is derived from experience and being there. The tuition question comes down to a decision that will always have supporters and opponents.

Bachmann is a "neo-con." In fairness, it may be impossible for a woman born in Iowa who grew up in Minnesota to truly understand the principle of states rights. She may talk about the 10th amendment. But facts are facts. Governor Perry was joined by practically all of the law makers in Texas. It is a "constitutional thing!" It never seemed to occur to Congresswoman Bachmann that this was Texas' business and Texas'call.

Governor Romney is easier to fathom. He "is a "trimmer." In other words, "he trims his sails to the political winds." Had the Republican base voiced praise for Perry's decision, he would have seconded the motion.

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