Gov. Rick Perry says his 2010 plea to President Barack Obama for border security help remains unanswered.
Perry made the appeal to Obama in August 2010 when they met on the airport tarmac in Austin, where Obama was visiting for the day. The governor mentioned the airport meeting when he appeared on CNN’s “The Situation Room” this month.
Perry said, “The president hadn’t called up the governor of one of the largest states who has the longest border with Mexico and said, ‘Governor, what do you think we need to do about the issue of immigration?’ I would be open to that conversation any day. … I handed him a letter some two or three years ago on the tarmac at the Austin airport about that issue, about border security. And yet to get a response.”
At the Aug. 9, 2010, airport encounter, Perry and Obama chatted for less than a minute. Perry ultimately handed his letter on border security to a White House aide, Valerie Jarrett.
In the letter, Perry said he was renewing his invitation for the president and federal officials to meet with Texas officials on security issues. In addition, the letter urged federal drones to be flown along the border and mentioned Perry’s unfulfilled “standing request” for 1,000 National Guard troops to work with Texas law enforcement on security operations.
We asked Perry’s office about the governor saying he had not heard back from Obama. By email, Perry spokesman Josh Havens said: “We are still waiting on a response from President Obama.”
But Havens simultaneously emailed us just such a response.
An Aug. 27, 2010, letter to Perry was signed by John Brennan, then assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism. (Brennan has since become CIA director.)
Brennan’s letter, on White House letterhead, opened, “Thank you for your August 9, 2010, letter to President Obama regarding security concerns on our Southwest border. On behalf of President Obama, I wish to assure you that we understand your concerns and appreciate your outreach.”
Brennan’s letter further said that securing the border had been an Obama priority. The letter did not embrace any of Perry’s requests, but it noted that, a few days after his Austin stop, Obama signed the Southwest Border Security Act into law, enabling the “addition of substantial and varied law enforcement resources to enhance security on our southern border.”
As an example, the letter said, additional National Guard troops and “other security resources” would serve. “It is anticipated that Texas will have over 20 National Guardsmen serving as criminal investigative analysts in fusion centers and over 225 Guardsmen conducting ground surveillance” in national entry identification teams, the letter said.
The letter closed: “We are united in our common interest and focused efforts to secure the Southwest border. Your continued engagement and partnership on this national security imperative is much appreciated.”
Our ruling: Perry said he had “yet to get a response” to his 2010 letter to Obama requesting border security steps. That’s not so. Perry fielded a reply to his letter from a White House deputy about three weeks after his airport howdy. We grant that it might not have contained the answers Perry sought, but saying Perry has yet to get any response strikes us as both inaccurate and ridiculous. Pants on Fire!
Statement: Says he has “yet to get a response” from Barack Obama to his August 2010 letter making border security requests.