Gov. Rick Perry of Texas plans to order 1,000 National Guard troops to his state's border with Mexico in an effort to stem the tide of immigrants illegally entering from Central America, dispersing around the country once they've made it into Texas.
Critics will call it a stunt and accuse Mr. Perry of showboating, but at least he is taking action, while President Obama, who took an oath to defend the country from all enemies foreign and domestic, drinks beer, plays pool and attends fundraisers as our borders are overrun. Enemies are more than adversary nations with weapons. An enemy can also be a person, or groups of people who, by their presence in a country, undermine its economy, strength and values.
Polls show a majority of Americans favor stopping illegal aliens from entering the country.
In a recent telephone survey by Rasmussen Reports, 59 percent of likely U.S. voters believe "the primary focus of any new immigration legislation passed by Congress should be to send the young illegal immigrants back home as quickly as possible." Only 27 percent think they should be allowed to stay.
The public isn't buying what they've been told by the media and some Democrats that the illegal immigrants are fleeing dangerous conditions in their own countries. According to Rasmussen, "Most voters (52 percent) believe they are coming to America for economic reasons." Just 31 percent think they're coming for their own safety.
Texas' border with Mexico is 1,200 miles long and 1,000 National Guardsmen won't make a significant difference, but as supplements to the U.S. Border Patrol they could slow the tide. The Guardsmen, however, might be useful in sending a message to Central American countries that the odds of making it into Texas are being substantially raised and the journey is not worth the risk. That message would counter what has been promoted in Central American media: that if you can get to America, you can stay in America.
During a 2012 Republican presidential debate, Mr. Perry defended giving in-state tuition breaks to illegal immigrants, saying those who opposed the practice don't have a heart. That was about immigrants already here. At the time, Mr. Perry says he warned the administration of the increasing number of unaccompanied children crossing the border. He claims the White House never responded to his concerns.
If Mr. Perry's detractors, of whom there are many, criticize him for a "symbolic" act, what about President Obama's motive for not sending federal troops, or finishing the border fence? Mr. Obama's critics say the president is "importing" future Democratic voters and creating another underclass that will be dependent on government and thus, the party of big government, the Democrats.
Action, even if insufficient to solve the problem, beats doing nothing in the minds of many Americans disgusted with gridlock and a dysfunctional federal government. Mr. Perry's planned troop rollout will occur over the next 30 days. If it reduces the number of illegal immigrants flooding into Texas, Mr. Perry could embarrass and serve as a contrast to President Obama and congressional Democrats. It might also improve Mr. Perry's presidential chances should he seek the 2016 GOP nomination.
Should the immigrants, as a result of Mr. Perry's action, attempt to enter the U.S. at the borders of New Mexico, Arizona or California, the governors of those states might consider following Mr. Perry's example.
At an Austin news conference, Mr. Perry said he expects Washington to foot the bill for the cost of deploying the Texas National Guard. Good luck with that. He may have more success at the border than with Congress or President Obama, who dither and waffle and stall as the issue of illegal immigration jumps to the top of American concerns.
Cal Thomas is a syndicated columnist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.