Watching the Republican Presidential Primary debate last night, I found myself feeling sorry for Governor Perry of Texas. One by one the candidates pronounced how they would be "tough" on illegal immigration. The audience cheered lustily when an increasingly cranky Ron Paul said he would deny them benefits (the audience apparently oblivious to the fact that illegal immigrants are not eligible now for benefits). Had Congresswoman Bachman been asked, no doubt she would wax wistfully about the successes of the Chinese Exclusion Act. The heretofore irrelevant former Pennsylvania Senator, Rick Santorum, with a cheesy grin reminiscent of a sarcastic Jerry Seinfield, attacked Perry for his support of the Texas DREAM Act, which allows residents of Texas regardless of their immigration status to attend college in Texas and pay resident tuition. While no fan of Governor Perry, and indeed , all recent governors of Texas (except Ann Richards), I have to congratulate Perry for his Lone Star State size cajones: it takes guts to pronounce as "heartless" those who would deny a college education to an innocent young person. (as if "heartless" in this group would be seen as anything other than a positive attribute) This flash of thoughtfulness amidst a cavalcade of "hooray for me and to hell with you" (which should be the new slogan of the Tea/Republican party) was noteworthy and deserves acknowledgment. The fact that he was booed really doesn't mean as much when you consider this was the same audience that booed an active volunteer member of our fighting armed forces who disclosed that he was gay.
So good for you Governor Perry, you moved the needle for me, albeit a fraction of a millimeter, and for only a brief moment. But I'm gratified that you understand that it is unjust to punish a young person, brought into this country by parents seeking a better life. I would be a lot more gratified if you and the other Republicans could tell the truth about the record number of deportations, the net decline of illegal immigrants in America, the urgent need to deal with the humanitarian needs of millions of mixed status families in this country, and particularly the plight of the DREAMers.