AUSTIN, Texas – Rick Perry sent a letter Wednesday to Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto regarding the Governor’s decision to deploy the Texas National Guard on the border.
In the letter, Perry invites Peña Nieto to visit Texas to discuss border security issues.
“Our challenges today are partly a consequence of the failure of the Mexican government to secure its southern border from illegal immigration by unaccompanied children and other individuals from Central America, or to deploy adequate resources to control the criminal element in Mexico,” Perry wrote.
“Whether along Mexico’s southern border or Texas’, we must ensure our borders are secured in a manner that discourages illicit activities while allowing for legitimate commerce and lawful immigration, and I encourage you to take the necessary steps to do so along your country’s southern border.”
Gov. Perry announced in July he would be deploying 1,000 National Guard troops to the border. Almost immediately, José Antonio Meade Kuribreña, Mexico’s foreign secretary, poured scorn on Perry’s plans. He said the wave of Central American children crossing into the United States from Mexico were of no threat to Texas.
On Sept. 10, Mexico’s foreign relations department issued this statement:
“The Mexican government reiterates its strongest repudiation and condemnation of the deployment of the first soldiers of the Texas National Guard, announced today by the Office of Governor Rick Perry.
“Mexico asserts that it is irresponsible to manipulate the current state of border security for political purposes. It reiterates that immigration must be addressed from a comprehensive and regional perspective, with a mid-term vision and with shared responsibility, to ensure peace, inclusion and prosperity in the region.
“The measure taken unilaterally by the Texas government is clearly erroneous and does not contribute to the efforts being made by our countries to create a secure border and a solution to the issue of immigration. It does not contribute to bringing our societies closer together and it opposes the principles and values by which Mexico and the United States govern their bilateral relationship.”
The criticism from Mexico came hard on the heels of a study by The Perryman Group which found that the Rio Grande Valley will be hurt economically as a result of the deployment of guard troops. Valley business leaders seized on Perryman’s study and urged the Legislature to commit millions of marketing dollars to promote the Valley in order to counter the “damage done” by the deployment of National Guard troops.
Speaking on News Talk 710 KURV, McAllen Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Steve Ahlenius said he backed Perryman’s analysis.
“When you hear the National Guard being deployed images that come to your mind is Ferguson, Missouri, the image of lawlessness and unrest. From RSTEC’s perspective and from the business community’s perspective we think it sends the wrong message,” Ahlenius told KURV.
RSTEC stands for Rio South Texas Economic Council, which is a group of Valley cities and economic development corporations. Ahlenius is the group’s immediate past president.
Here is Gov. Perry’s letter to President Peña Nieto in full:
September 17, 2014
I read with interest and concern your comments regarding border security on the week of September 11, which called Texas’ increased law enforcement presence on the border “unpleasant” and “reprehensible.” As neighbors and economic partners, Mexico and the United States are inextricably bound by shared interests and culture. As friends we might not always agree, but we must have an honest and respectful dialogue about the challenges we share, which is why I write to you today.
My time as governor has seen significant changes for both of our nations. Under your leadership, Mexico has undergone remarkable reforms, including measures to increase economic competitiveness and create opportunities for hardworking families, such as education reform, fiscal reform and the privatization of its energy industry.
All the while, our two countries have continued prosperous trade and cultural relationships. Texas is a national example of job creation in the United States, and our economic climate and strong infrastructure network have allowed us to become the nation’s largest exporting state. As Texas’ economy has grown, commerce between Texas and Mexico has flourished, creating opportunity for families on both sides of the border.
That is why your comments last week were particularly concerning. I believe strongly that our continued prosperity depends on a partnership that works collaboratively to address our shared border security challenges, rather than marginalizing the legitimate views of one side. Our partnership cannot advance if we fail to acknowledge the serious issues associated with lax border enforcement along both of our southern borders.
Our unique relationship as neighbors who share a nearly 2,000 mile border not only requires a spirit of cooperation, but a willingness to confront problems with direct, candid dialogue. The fact is, cartel violence plagues our international border and jeopardizes the security of citizens on both sides of the border. Furthermore, the number of illegal alien apprehensions in this country has been on the rise for the past few years. While many seek only economic opportunity, some seek to exploit our porous border with criminal intent. I will continue to act as necessary to uphold my constitutional obligations, and when it comes to the safety and security of Texans, I will not be dissuaded by rhetoric of any kind.
This crisis has manifested itself in the faces of scared children undertaking perilous journeys, traveling from Central America across Mexico to reach the United States. The threat posed to these young children, families along the border, and communities across Texas as a result of a porous border is real. That is why I directed the Texas Department of Public Safety and Texas’ National Guard to provide additional law enforcement resources in the border region. As the Governor of Texas, I have an obligation to put the safety of our citizens first. Those obeying our laws have nothing to fear from our increased law enforcement presence. In fact, I would like to invite you to visit my state to see firsthand the professionalism of our National Guard soldiers and their law enforcement partners as they work to secure the border.
Our challenges today are partly a consequence of the failure of the Mexican government to secure its southern border from illegal immigration by unaccompanied children and other individuals from Central America, or to deploy adequate resources to control the criminal element in Mexico. Whether along Mexico’s southern border or Texas’, we must ensure our borders are secured in a manner that discourages illicit activities while allowing for legitimate commerce and lawful immigration, and I encourage you to take the necessary steps to do so along your country’s southern border.
Our shared border represents a common opportunity to enforce the rule of law and continue a productive dialogue that addresses the evolving realities and challenges of border security. I would be honored to host you in Texas, and am hopeful the United States and Mexico can work as partners to find solutions to these challenges, now and in the future.