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TribBlog: Perry Talks Obama, Border Issues

After a brief tarmac meeting with President Barack Obama, Gov. Rick Perry returned to bashing the administration over border security.

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Gov. Rick Perry on Monday called the recent deployment of 286 National Guard troops to Texas a “fraud” and said Texans should look to history to fully appreciate the extent of the danger lurking south of the border.

“Do we think about looking back to the 1930s in Europe, the South Pacific in late 1941 or even the United States in early September of 2001? There were early warning signs in all of those time frames that were ignored. Too many lives were needlessly lost,” he said in a speech he delivered as part of the Texas Public Policy Foundation's Lone Star Issues series. “We ignore the current warning signs along our international border at our own peril.”

After likening Mexican cartels and gangs to official enemies of the United States, Perry highlighted recent violence in the border states of Tamaulipas and Chihuahua and said that “symptoms of that violence are beginning to creep into Texas,” citing the case of two Laredo teenagers who committed murder at the behest of the Los Zetas drug gang in 2006.

The governor, however, was more reserved in his criticism of Obama than he has been in the past, noting just hours after briefly meeting with him at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport that he greeted and applauded the president upon his arrival because it was the appropriate thing to do.

“I applauded every time a president has rolled in. It’s the gracious thing to do. He’s the president of the United States. This is Texas,” he said, joking about the questions he would have been asked had he not applauded. He said Obama was “pleasant,” though added he was surprised there wasn’t enough time to sit down and speak at length.

But his ongoing criticism of what he insists is federal inaction didn’t wane in a brief gathering with reporters afterward, where he divulged his hope that Obama would read a letter Perry handed an Obama aide during their brief visit at the airport. In it, Perry reiterated his standing request that at least 1,000 National Guard troops be sent to Texas.

“You’ve got to have the presence of law enforcement on the border. When you got a 1,200 mile border, and the idea that 286 National Guard troops is somehow or another going to stem the flow of illegal drugs and illegal activity along the border on its face is a bit of a fraud,” he said, adding that all other conversations about immigration reform are a moot point until the border is secure.

“You’ve got a revolving door at the border," he said. "Putting rules into place mean nothing.”

Asked if he expected more from Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, the former governor of Arizona, Perry said he did.

“That was my hope — that she would have lobbied and he would have listened and they could have gotten more border security done over the last year and a half,” he said. But he was quick to remind reporters of his dim view of decision-making in Washington.

“I think we all understand the way the federal government works. It starts at the top, and you get your instructions from the president of the United States,” he said.

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