EL PASO, Texas – Former state Sen. Eliot Shapleigh has written to the Des Moines Register, the top newspaper in Iowa, to blast Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s record on assisting the Texas-Mexico border region.

Perry is spending a lot of time in Iowa, which is traditionally the state where presidential campaigns begin.

Shapleigh sent his letter to Jennifer Jacobs, the chief politics reporter for the Des Moines Register. He pointed out that he has known Perry for many years. “On Border issues, Rick Perry’s sole motivation is to pander to extremists in the Republican Party,” Shapleigh wrote. He said Perry’s deployment of 1,000 National Guard troops on the South Texas border during the run-up to the Iowa caucuses was just “plain pandering.” He predicted it would not make a positive difference.

Former state Sen. Eliot Shapleigh is pictured at an RGV Equal Voice event last July. (File photo: RGG/Steve Taylor)
Former state Sen. Eliot Shapleigh is pictured at an RGV Equal Voice event last July. (File photo: RGG/Steve Taylor)

Here is Shapleigh’s letter in full:

July 24, 2014

Ms. Jennifer Jacobs

Des Moines Register

Dear Jennifer,

My name is Eliot Shapleigh. I am a fifth generation El Pasoan. For 14 years, I proudly served as Texas Senator from El Paso, a community of patriotic, resilient and hardworking Texans perched right on the US, Texas and New Mexico borders.

In 1999, Rick Perry served one term as our Lt. Governor. With George Bush’s election as President in 2000, Perry suddenly became Governor.

Having served with Perry for 12 of my 14 years in public service, I know Rick Perry well. I know his record, his beliefs and what he has done or failed to do on the Texas Border.

On Border issues, Rick Perry’s sole motivation is to pander to extremists in the Republican Party. In 2008, when Juarez, Mexico just one mile from my home in El Paso passed Baghdad to become the most violent city in the world, I spent countless hours in DC, Mexico City and Juarez visiting with federal, state, and community leaders crafting solutions to combat violence, help our sister city and build solid jobs.

Perry was absent from State Department discussions, absent from real policy positions, absent from concrete solutions that might create real job options in a region of Mexico where ‘sicario’ then ranked at the top end of the pay scale. If ever the Border needed Perry’s help, that was the time.

Before that, in 2001, our office passed a Texas Mexico commission to help plan, implement and create a solid infrastructure, trade and economic development with our largest trading partner to grow prosperity in what is America’s poorest region—the 32 counties of the Texas Mexico Border.

Perry failed to implement or fund Commission activities.

In 2003, our office passed innovative RFID technology so frequent Border crossers engaged in business and trade might utilize finger print identifiers to move across the Border, a program based on a successful prototype in Washington/British Columbia. Perry failed to fund the RFID program and thus passed on a concrete opportunity to make the Border safer, build jobs and move the $56b in legitimate trade that moves through the El Paso/Juarez/ Southern New Mexico port.

Throughout the last decade, with great law enforcement, fusion centers and regional cooperation between local police, state DPS and Federal officers, El Paso has been the safest or second safest city in the US (usually Honolulu is first). In 2008, when 3000 people were murdered in Juarez, making our regional public relations issues acute all around the world, Rick Perry told US media that ‘car bombs’ had just gone off in downtown El Paso, a statement that had no truth whatsoever and that significantly hurt tourism, trade and job growth for months.

Perry never apologized to our community for his statement.

For a guy who has made a career doing nothing on the Border, ordering 1000 National Guard here during the run up to the Iowa primary is just plain pandering not a serious policy that will make any positive difference. Texas National Guard are trained for war not to detain four year old migrants. Texas National Guard troops have no authority to arrest nor detain nor even ask questions and will just get in the way of well trained US Border Patrol who do have arrest authority and whose increased numbers and technology have limited border crossings to the lowest in decades. To give you an idea of exactly what is going on here I have copied a recent photo from a New York Times story that ran a few weeks ago.

Back in 1997, during a similar deployment of military to the Border, a US marine shot and killed Ezequiel Hernandez, a US citizen who was herding goats near Redford, Texas. I’ll send you a recent interview with his family on what they think of troop deployment to our Border communities.

Let’s make a deal — we’ll send you Rick Perry every weekend to campaign. You send us blankets, food and medicine so we can take care of refugee children who need due process on what will happen to them if they return to war zones.

Very truly yours,

Senator Eliot Shapleigh

Texas Senate