Once upon a time Gov. Rick Perry had a sensible position on immigration. He knew, as did most Texans, that Texas has a unique relationship with Mexico and that it was the influx of immigrant labor that kept the cost of living lower in Texas than in other states.
Of course that raises the issue of whether or not immigrant labor was used by employers as a tool to keep down wages and deter union membership.
Immigrants who crossed the border without the permission of the US government took jobs that no one else wanted. They paid taxes (remember, there is no income tax in Texas) whenever they bought something or paid their rent (part of the rental income a landlord receives goes to pay property tax).
Gov. Goodhair even realized that efforts to raise tuition rates for the children of undocumented workers only served to discourage them from attending college because of the cost. He understood that making a college education more attainable benefited everyone in the state.
But then the Fair-Haired One decided he wanted to follow W to the White House. The national Republican Party was virulently opposed to immigration because the less white the country becomes, the less pull Republicans will have. They are fighting to preserve a vision of America that never really existed.
Now, fearful of pissing off the money lords of the GOP, Gov. Perry has flipped his views on immigration. Now he is opposed to any easing of restrictions. His latest move is to activate some 1,000 members of the Texas National Guard to patrol the border to prevent more children from Central America making it to Texas.
These children who are flooding detention centers in the Rio Grande Valley aren't criminals. They are coming here in search of a parent or they are being sent by their families to get them away from the violence and poverty of their home countries.
We don't need to militarize the border. We don't need to expedite hearings so we can deport children. What we need to do is sit down and figure out a rational immigration policy - one that takes reality into account. For far too long our policy consisted of allowing in anyone from a country whose government we disagreed with and slamming the door shut for immigrants from countries with friendly governments.
Many of these children are refugees and should be afforded the same protections as any other refugee from any other part of the world. We will be judged on the basis of how we treat the most vulnerable people in this country. Right now I don't think the verdict would be favorable.