What would Rick Perry do with immigration reform if he is elected President of the United States?
Gov. Rick Perry (Rep.) of Texas with former President Fox of Mexico
Set aside the campaign chatter. Perry actually has a relatively moderate record on immigration. In 2001, he signed a law allowing undocumented students who graduate from Texas high schools to pay in-state tuition at Texas public universities. Last year he criticized Arizona's strict new immigration enforcement law, and said that it wouldn't be right for Texas. He's called for a guest-worker program and a path to citizenship. Other than this year's campaign against sanctuary cities, there is little in his decade-plus as governor to suggest that he has the appetite for a crackdown on economic migrants. NumbersUSA, a group that campaigns for less immigration, has given him a "D-" -- worse, in their view, than Michele Bachman, Mitt Romney, or Sarah Palin.
Perry has, of course, been hawkish about border security. He has repeatedly said that both border security and immigration reform fall into what he sees as the rather narrow category of Washington's responsibilities, and he argues that the former takes precedence over the latter -- or should, at least. In New Hampshire last week, he told the Union-Leader that the president has been turning "a blind eye" to the border. But, interestingly, he describes border security as a different issue from immigration reform. "Texans in particular enjoy a unique culture that has been greatly enriched by immigrants from all over the world, and especially from Mexico," he wrote in his 2010 book, Fed Up!, adding a comment about how great Tex-Mex food is. He continued: "Yet this has absolutely nothing to do with border security. We can have all the immigration debates we want, but Americans are demanding that the border be secured first."