An illegal immigration crisis is becoming a major opportunity for Republicans as they press an issue that could lead to the White House in 2016.
A number of high-profile GOP members have begun pressing the Obama administration on what they believe is a failure to control the borders and deport illegal immigrants. Many believe this is the groundwork for a 2016 platform that pushes against Democrats on the hot-button issue.
Texas Governor Rick Perry recently responded what he calls an illegal immigration crisis by ordering 1,000 Texas National Guard troops to the border to deter violence from Mexican drug cartels and human smugglers.
In announcing the move, Rick Perry said the move was in part a response to the tens of thousands of undocumented children being brought over the border, many of whom end up detailed.
“I won’t stand idly by while our citizens are under assault and little children from Central America are detained in squalor,” Perry said.
The move has generated some controversy, as Democrats say Perry’s actions are more about playing politics with the hot-button issue of illegal immigration.
“Many of us believe that the border is more secure today than it has ever been,” said Muzaffar Chishti, director of the New York office of the Migration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank. “Enforcement is not the answer to everything.”
Others say they don’t know what the 1,000 National Guard troops will be able to accomplish at the U.S.-Mexico border.
“They’re trained in warfare,” said Sheriff Omar Lucio of Cameron County, which borders Mexico. “I don’t know what they’re really going to be doing.”
Reports say that close to 60,000 unaccompanied minors have been apprehended trying to cross the border from Mexico into the United States in just the last nine months.
But the influx appears to be slowing, The Wall Street Journal reports:
“In recent weeks, the number apprehended has fallen, according to figures provided by the White House. During the week of June 22, there were 1,985 crossers. That fell to 1,260 the following week and then to 977 during the week of July 6. The figure hit 672 for the week that ended Saturday.”
Rick Perry is taking the lead among a number of Republicans who have ramped up the rhetoric surrounding illegal immigration. Many of them are taking aim at President Obama, including Sarah Palin who said his failure to secure the borders amount to an impeachable offense.
“The Border Patrol can’t do the job they were on the border to do because they’re taking care of children,” Rep. Kay Granger (R., Texas), head of the GOP working group, said in an interview.
Rick Perry’s solution to the illegal immigration crisis appears to be a costly one. Sending 1,000 National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border will cost an estimated $1.3 million per week.
But the move could be important for Perry, who many believe will enter the 2016 presidential race. He is seen as one of the strongest candidates when it comes to immigration reform, an advantage he will likely push should he enter the race.
It appears that Republicans are already making gains by pushing the illegal immigration crisis. This weekend an anti-illegal immigration rally in Massachusetts drew close to 10,000 people.