Martha Raddatz, host of ABC’s This Week, grilled Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) Sunday about the growing number of unaccompanied children coming to the United States from Latin America from Central America seeking asylum. When Perry insisted the issue is solely one of border security, Raddatz quickly debunked his talking points.
Perry blamed the influx of children on President Obama, complaining that there are not enough border patrol agents along the border between Texas and Mexico (despite agents monitoring every mile of the border every day). Raddatz pushed back, noting that the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 requires that those seeking refugee status from Central American countries receive due process:
RADDATZ: But, governor, this is about a law. This isn’t necessarily about border patrol. This is about a law….They have to let these people into the country when they’re from non-contiguous nations, when they’re from Central America or South America, should that law be changed?
PERRY: The rule of law is that the Constitution requires the United States to secure the border and we’re not doing that. we haven’t done it for years. and we are paying a huge price. when you have catch and release policies that send a message to people…
Raddatz did not let Perry change the subject, asking him to focus on “the 2008 law that was signed into law by George [W.] Bush,” and suggesting that that has created a backlog in the courts that must be addressed first. But Perry continued to dodge the question, arguing that Obama simply did not care about keeping these children out. Raddatz again pushed back:
RADDATZ: He’s telling people not to come! He’s telling them in ads not to come into the United States, not to leave their homes.
PERRY: About five years too late would be my response to that. The president has sent powerful messages, time after time, by his polices, by nuances, that it is okay to come to the United States and you can come across and you’ll be accepted with open arms.
Watch the video:
Despite Perry’s suggestion, President Obama did not create the migrant children influx. The current process of dealing with unaccompanied children from countries other than Mexico was set by the Bush administration, according to Dara Lind at Vox. Under the law, the Border Patrol agency is required to take in these children, screen and vaccinate them, then turn them over to the Department of Health of Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR).
As Raddatz noted, the Customs and Border Protection Agency launched an ad campaign last week aimed at discouraging child refugees from coming to the United States and has stepped up efforts to deport those who do. He also requested last week that Congress make changes to the law to expedite deportation decisions.