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Clarence Page: Rick Perry's border campaign — for president?

Oklahoman Published: July 25, 2014

Texas Gov. Rick Perry has a response to the crisis of unaccompanied children crossing our southern border. He’s calling up the National Guard. To do what? Provide daycare?

After all, this latest wave of undocumented immigrants is making headlines because they are under 18, seeking asylum from violence-ravaged Central America and running toward border guards, not away from them.

The border has been overwhelmed in recent months with the influx of 57,000 unaccompanied children, mostly from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. Many have been fleeing gang violence and following the rumors spread by human traffickers along the drug routes.

Border agents turn potential asylum seekers over to the Department of Health and Human Services while their legal status is being determined. In the meantime, border agents trying to handle the inflow find themselves handling such unexpected duties as changing baby diapers.

In a news conference Perry insisted that his assignment of 1,000 troops to the border will be “force multiplier” to assist state troopers, the Border Patrol and other police who, unlike the National Guard, are allowed to make actual arrests and detentions.

But sheriffs along the border sound unimpressed. Some told reporters that they have not been consulted about the wisdom of sending military personnel who are not authorized to stop, question or arrest anyone.

“At this time, a lot of people do things for political reasons. I don’t know that it helps,” said one, according to Christy Hoppe of the Dallas Morning News.

Besides, the number of children caught at the border has actually declined, border officials say, from a high of 355 per day last month to about 150 per day now. That may be a temporary dip or maybe word is getting around that the administration expects most of asylum seekers to be returned, a process that already has begun.

But, either way, you can tell that Perry is gearing up for another possible presidential run. He paid a visit to Iowa Republicans last weekend. He’s (Gasp!) stopped wearing Western boots, citing back problems, according to The New York Times. He’s even joined the ranks of those of us who think wearing eyeglasses makes you look more intelligent. Welcome, governor.

And he’s implementing his own border policy. “The price of inaction is too high for Texans to pay,” Perry said.

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