Bachmann trying to “Take It to Perry” on border security

GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachmann has very publicly signed a pledge to build a “secure, double-fence” along the U.S./Mexican border, putting her at odds with rival Rick Perry, the Texas governor who has called the idea of building a border fence “ridiculous.”  She signed the pledge during an event her campaign billed as a “Take It to Perry” Rally, in Perry, Iowa.

“This is more than just an economic issue. This is also a national security issue. It’s an issue dealing with terrorism,” Bachmann said.  “…The nation understood and learned all too well this week that there’s a very real risk when we don’t have our borders secured.”

Bachmann never mentioned Perry by name during her opening remarks on border security after she signed the “Americans for Border Security” pledge. “President Obama has failed the American people by failing to secure the southern border,” Bachmann said instead. “As your president…I pledge to you that I will secure that border and I have been saying this all throughout the campaign.”

After speaking about other issues for 10 minutes or so, Bachmann began citing the costs of illegal immigration and Bachmann said it wasn’t “biased or bigoted” to talk about the issue.  “Can I just say that it’s o.k. to talk about this subject?” Bachmann said, adding the Iowans she’s met with are “tired of paying for illegal immigration and I think the people of Iowa have a reason to feel that way.”

In the middle of her recitation of numbers, a man in the audience raised his hand to challenge what he called Bachmann’s “inaccurate representation.”  Bachmann told him she would call on him first during the Q&A time.

Bachmann had a power point presentation, projected on a big screen for the crowd. She suggested the average U.S. household pays $1000 in additional taxes every year to cover the costs of illegal immigration.  “Think about that in your own life,” Bachmann said.   “The real kicker in all this is the education of illegal aliens…That is the single largest cost to taxpayers.”

This is a direct hit, of course, on Perry for the Texas policy which grants in-state tuition to illegal immigrants, but Bachmann doesn’t say this and, again, she has not mentioned Perry by name. “This we know is the #1 cost for the taxpayers — it’s for the education of illegal immigrants,” Bachmann said.

Bachmann finished up her power-point presentation, and refocused on educating illegal aliens. “This is taking a huge toll on the American taxpayer and where we’re really feeling this is at the college and university system,” Bachmann said.

She began critiquing Perry’s policy re: college tuition for illegal immigrants, but again without saying his name. “We have kind of a don’t ask/don’t tell policy at our colleges and universities” according to Bachmann, who said Texas was one of the states that has “circumvented” a 1996 law which forbids such tuition breaks for illegal immigrants.

According to Bachmann, there were 12,138 students in Texas in 2009 who benefited from the state law. “That’s $44 million that they received from the taxpayers of Texas,” she said. “…It also took away very competitive admission slots away from (other) students.”

Bachmann said the Mexican government had praised the “governor of Texas” for his tuition policy, but she didn’t say Perry’s name.

At about 40 minutes in the event, Bachmann made her most direct comment to contrast with Perry’s assertion that it’s “ridiculous” to build a fence along the entire border.

“I put my backbone against any other candidate in this race. I will secure that border. That will be job number one and that will be secured…and it will be every mile, every yard, every inch of that border because the portion that you fail to secure is the highway into the United States,” she said, to applause.

As she opened it up for questions, Bachmann told the crwod it’s important to talk about the issue “without name-calling” and she also mentions her immigrant ancestors who “came into this country legally.”

A man in the crowd, the one who challenged her at the beginning, questioned the source of Bachmann’s data and then asked this: “Why would you choose to punish these kids who came here when they were young, no choice of their own?”

She said those kids were getting “special advantages” and he added: “Under our system of govt you cannot punish the children for the actions of their parents.”

Bachmann told the man he was “entitled to (his) opinion” during her answer. Another man in the crowd jumped in to add his two-cents worth, supporting Bachmann’s perspective, saying the problem with the Texas law was that the children of illegal immigrants were getting in-state tuition break, rather than being required to pay out-of-state tuition to the Texas colleges & universities.

“It’s wrong to have people break out laws and then, when they get in, have magnets,” Bachmann said, adding tuition breaks & other benefits to illegal immigrants was “extremely expensive” for taxpayers.

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.


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