So we commend him on taking decisive action. But we withhold judgment on the wisdom of his action until we have more information.
What is readily apparent is that this move provides enormous political capital to an elected official who will soon be out of office and who is considering a second run for the White House. It also becomes a rallying point for Republicans before a national midterm election against the policies of President Barack Obama and Democrats who support him.
And while we are not naïve enough to presume that politics should not be considered in such a deployment, we are concerned that politics might be the primary consideration. Since any type of military maneuver involves an element of risk to a soldier's safety, such a consideration would be the height of cynicism in extremely cynical times.
The deployment of combat-trained troops, in whatever role they ultimately play, adds a layer of complexity to an already complex situation.
If anything, Perry's announcement of the deployment demonstrated how little we know about the extent of the current situation.
We have been told, for example, that up to 57,000 unaccompanied minors have crossed the border and been detained. Perry announced that this represents merely 20 percent of the total number of immigrants who have been caught this year.
That is an extraordinary figure and would seem to back his rationale for providing help.
But we have seen few statistics beyond those that seem to justify one policymaker's actions versus another.
We know that the Border Patrol has a virtual blackout on information. In that vacuum, we call on Gov. Perry to provide additional information from the perspective of the DPS. He alluded to the challenge that state troopers are having in their current support role of the federal government; we need to know more specifically the extent of that challenge.
We are distraught that during his announcement to deploy troops, Gov. Perry, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Attorney Gen. Greg Abbott — all of whom have acknowledged the humanitarian crisis brewing in our region — did little to secure funds to help with that crisis.
So we see enormous expenditures being proposed for border security efforts at both the federal and state levels, while relatively little money seems earmarked for humanitarian aid, a responsibility that has fallen to charities and local taxpayers to fund.
So on one hand, proponents of a border buildup are decrying the failure of the federal government to adequately do its job. But the very proof of this failure — the tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors and families from Central America — seem to be a symptom of a crisis in which few people want to address.
If deployment of the National Guard is necessary for the safety of Texans, then the deployment of humanitarian aid must also be a factor in this complex equation.
Longview News-Journal. July 24, 2014.
Some just don't want to hear the truth of the border crisis
If political courage ever has been displayed in abundance, that certainly is not the case these days. More likely we see weak-kneed politicians pandering to the least-informed and loudest voices they hear, then echoing back even louder with even less logic.
We had a true example of political courage last week in Longview, though, as state Rep. David Simpson told his constituents the plain truth about the situation of immigrant children flooding our southern border.
As might be expected, the loudest voices in the room did not want to hear the truth. We can't be sure they even listened to what Simpson had to say. Those with closed minds rarely have ears to hear.
But they have mouths to speak, and speak they did:
"It's an invasion."
"They are all criminals."
"These people have leprosy and polio."
None of those are true. To the last point, polio hasn't been an issue in this hemisphere for decades. That anyone would seriously say immigrant children are bringing it across our border shows the level of ignorance in this debate.
This issue is complex and, unfortunately, too many of our East Texas, state and national elected officials apparently are not willing to take the time to deeply understand the issues at hand — or honest enough to acknowledge the truth. That would take too much time and not make for a good sound bite.
Simpson is an exception in this case. We hope he isn't depressed by the cacophony because what's important is that he is speaking the firsthand truth about the situation.
Simpson went to the border not as a politically self-serving photo op (see: Perry, Rick; Gohmert, Louie; or Patrick, Dan) but to actually learn what is going on. Simpson took his children with him. It was a family experience, and it obviously made an impact.
This is what we want from our leaders.
During the public meeting, one person told Simpson his first priority should be to do what his constituents want.
Simpson's first priority — as with all elected officials — should be to do what is right.
Simpson explained these young immigrants are in need of serious help, and the United States — the richest nation on Earth — should step forward to do what is necessary. He also said, correctly, that calling a special session of the Legislature to address the situation would be wasteful and nonproductive.
The children crossing our border are fleeing countries like Honduras, which has a homicide rate of 90 per 100,000 population, and Guatemala, where the rate is 40 per 100,000. Compare that to a combat zone like Afghanistan, with a rate of 28 per 100,000.
Beyond such data, Simpson met with the children and learned firsthand that their stories of brutal violence are true.
What's not true is that these children are fleeing their home countries because of U.S. policies that give a "free ride." If it were, Costa Rica and Mexico would not be seeing the same spike in applications for asylum. In the past few years, the increase was at 712 percent.
But loud voices often do not care about such matters; they just want what they see as best for themselves or their political goals.
Simpson always has worn his Christian beliefs on his sleeve for all to see, and we commend him for that. His views on what should be done obviously come directly from Christian teachings. A few of his louder constituents may feel he has not been true to them, but he has a more important allegiance: Christ, Jesus.
Corpus Christi Caller-Times. July 25, 2014.
The border's most dangerous disease is our hysteria
Put those fears of catching ebola from immigrant children to rest.
Health professionals at the ninth annual Border Health Conference are sending the clear signal that the thousands of children flooding the border from Central America won't infect us all with exotic diseases. That's in direct conflict with health-scare hysterics perpetrated by political opportunism and bad journalism.
Ebola, for example, isn't found in Central America. But that didn't stop U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey, R-Ga., from raising concerns about it in a letter to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Gingrey is a doctor and ought to know better. The fact-checkers at PolitiFact gave Gingrey a "Pants On Fire" rating for that one.
There are other maladies on a long scare list — leprosy, dengue fever, tuberculosis, measles, scabies and lice.
The infectious disease scare is one of the uglier symptoms of the nation's immigration policy debate. The message that these children are hazardous to our health makes it easier to view them as less than human.
They are not incubators of doom. They're just frightened children — "skinny, awkward and oftentimes bewildered children," according to one pediatrician quoted by Scripps Washington correspondent Trish Choate. They show signs of physical stress from the arduous journey and mental stress because, the pediatrician pointed out, they haven't seen their parents in a while and miss them.