Perry: Discuss Lack of DC Commitment to Border, Not Trump’s ‘Inflammatory Language’

Former Texas Governor and Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry argued that the discussion on illegal immigration should be “the lack of commitment from Washington, DC to secure this border” not Donald Trump’s “inflammatory language” on Tuesday’s “Hannity” on the Fox News Channel.

Perry began by addressing Donald Trump’s comments, saying, “Well, I think you have to be critical of his disrespectful language that he used. We want to talk about how to bring this country together and the solutions that we have in this country. I’ll be more than happy to have that conversation, but to paint with the broad brush that Mr. Trump did, and basically say that all Mexicans were rapists and killers is — that’s just — that is the type of inflammatory language that doesn’t do anything at all. What we need to be talking about is the real issue here, and that is, the lack of commitment from Washington, DC to secure this border. You saw it, Sean. We put our border patrol — I should say our Department of Public Safety, our Texas Rangers, our parks and wildlife wardens right in the river, and we made a big impact. We had a 74% decrease in apprehensions. That’s what we ought to be talking about, rather than this rhetoric.”

Host Sean Hannity objected, “I want to be fair to Mr. Trump in this respect. Perhaps inarticulate[ly], but he did — said some people are good people. He didn’t say all Mexicans as how you categorized it. He did say some people are good people. But these crimes are being committed by illegal immigrants, you see these Department of Homeland Security numbers, you see the cost factor, healthcare, education, criminal justice system. You know, in that sense, factually, is he right that this is happening? That’s just a fact, isn’t it?” Perry answered, “Nobody knows it better than I do. For 14 years I was the governor of the state with [a] 1,200 mile border with Mexico. I understand exactly what’s going on. And all the people of the state of Texas, whether they’re Anglo or African-American or Hispanic want to see that border secure. And that’s what this conversation needs to stay focused on, not making, you know, rhetoric that is hyperbolic. … He knew exactly what he was doing with those statements.”

Perry added that crimes committed by illegal immigrants were “why we were — we surged our individuals, our law enforcement to the border because we know what was going on. And this issue is about — the current administration basically says we spent this much money, we’ve got this many more people, and that’s true. But they have the people in the wrong place. They’re putting the resources in the wrong effort. We know how to secure the border. You put the personnel on the border, you have the strategic fencing in place, and you have aviation assets from Tijuana to El Paso to Brownsville, with quick response teams when you see activities that are either clearly illegal or suspicious. That’s how you secure the border. And if we had the will in Washington, DC, the border with Mexico and the United States could be secure, and it could be secure in a relative short period of time.”

The discussion then got back to Trump’s comments, Perry said he specifically disagrees with, “when he paints with such a broad brush. I think that’s the challenge that — to make this rhetoric be disrespectful. And we know what the real challenge is. I mean, I hope who Donald Trump’s really mad at is Washington, DC for their failure to secure that border.”

Perry later argued, “Washington has failed to do its duty. One of the reasons I’m running for presidency of the United States is so that there will be a president who understands, and goes to the Oval Office every day with the intent to secure the border, and to make America more secure. And “there is no will in Washington, DC to do their constitutional duty. … I mean, we have been screaming at the top of our lungs in this state for a long time about Washington not doing their constitutional duty to secure that border. And we know how to do it. I mean, you saw it, Sean, you and I together, you saw what we were capable of doing on that border. The problem is, that’s not the state’s responsibility, that’s the federal government’s responsibility. And you have an administration, and Congress I will add, that have not done their job. And we need, not only a change in administration, we need a change in the mindset in this country where we truly put the resources in the right place, put the personnel in the right place, and the equipment in the right place to finally secure this border so Americans can go to sleep every night not having to think that their daughter may be one of the ones that’s killed.”

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett