There is no way Texas Gov. Rick Perry can support the bipartisan immigration reform bill because, he says, it fails to deal satisfactorily with border security.
“You cannot have a legitimate conversation about immigration reform until you deal with the issue of border security. And, as far as I’m concerned, this bill does not address it,” Perry told Newsmax TV in an exclusive interview.
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“Until you address border security, I’m not going to be much inclined to have an academic conversation, which is all it will be.”
The proposal, drafted by the bipartisan group of senators known as the “Gang of Eight,” is expected to pass the Senate.
But Perry agrees with Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, who also believes the proposed legislation doesn’t go far enough in securing the nation’s borders.
“Sen. Cruz is absolutely correct . . . and when you add individuals like [Texas Rep.] Michael McCaul, who’s chairman of the Homeland Security Committee [and] knows that border incredibly well . . . the legislation’s not going to get a warm welcome in the House until they do address issues about securing the border,” he said.
Perry said he has been very concerned about the Obama administration‘s treatment of border security, particularly because of Texas’ important role in shoring up the nation’s economy.
“We’ve seen major reductions in the number of border patrol agents and the focus on the border,” he said.
“If the administration did not have Texas’ ability to create jobs, the unemployment numbers and the job-creation numbers in this country would be even more dismal than they are by a substantial margin.”
As for the the Internal Revenue Service‘s alleged harassment of more than 200 conservative groups, including those aligned with the tea party and the Texas-based True the Vote, Perry called the scandal “very troubling.”
“It appears that this is targeted at any conservative group that did not fall in line with the Obama administration’s philosophical beliefs,” he said.
“If this goes to the highest levels of the White House, then obviously there are a lot of options out there that are appropriate up to and including . . . the removal of individuals up to and including the president of the United States, if he is culpable.”
Perry hopes the Obama administration is not directly involved, but growing wary.
“You want to believe the leaders of your country would never be involved in that, but what we’re seeing out of this administration is a pattern of disregard for our laws,” he said.
“Benghazi and the IRS and The Associated Press — all of those stories are making people on the left and the right step back and scratch their head.”
Perry — who ran unsuccessfully for the the Republican presidential nomination in 2016 and is on the GOP shortlist for 2016 — already is talking like a potential candidate.
He disagrees with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, another 2016 possibility, that Texas’ political landscape is shifting dramatically and in three years it likely will be a blue state.
“Not even close. Texas is a red state because they believe in freedom,” Perry said. “You’re not going to see Texas turn blue or even purple anytime in the near future, and I will suggest to you possibly never.”
Bush has hedged when asked about his future plans. Perry won’t commit yet, either, on seeking re-election in 2014 or running for president.
He his focus is on the few days left in the Texas legislature’s session.
“Texas is one of the fastest-growing economies, the fastest-growing state in the nation,” he said.
“We have our challenges . . . and, hopefully, at the end of this legislative session or this summer, we will have addressed those . . . Once that is behind us, I’ll sit down with family and friends and make the decision.”
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By Bill Hoffmann and Kathleen Walter