President Barack Obama’s failure to guard the border has created a national security threat, Texas Gov. Rick Perry declared Thursday.
Obama has left the border open to drug cartels and to jihadi groups, including those who may be sent by the jihadi army in northern Iraq, the Islamic State, he said in a speech at the Heritage Foundation.
The border is “the nearest front of national security, and I’m sorry to say that today, this front is largely undefended… [and] we have been put on notice by the jihadi army,” he said.
“Defending the border is not a political option — it is a constitutional obligation, and until the federal government meets that duty and secures that border, all talk about border reform is pointless because Washington has no credibility,” Perry said.
Perry’s portrayal of immigration reform as a national-security issue is a different angle from the pitch some other GOP leaders have made. They have instead highlighted the economic impact of large-scale immigration.
“Jobs is the primary motivator for awakening [voters'] action on immigration,” said Kellyanne Conway, a pollster who spoke at the Heritage event short before Perry spoke.
“The vast majority of American households are job-holder households, and they’re the one paying very sharp attention” to the economy and the impact of immigration, she said. “They look at immigration as one piece of that overall economic equation,” said Conway, whose company is called The Polling Company.
GOP politicians are highlighting the economic impact of immigration.
“It is not our job to get cheap labor for big business, as much as labor might want that,” Rep. Tom Cotton told The Daily Caller Aug. 15. ”By standing up against illegal immigration, and by standing against the [Senate's 2013 immigration bill], I am in fact showing, as so many are, that I care about Americans,” including American Hispanics, Cotton said.
Other polls show lopsided support among independents, and split support among Hispanics, for colorblind pro-American immigration policies. (RELATED: Liberals Up To 3 Times More Likely Than Conservatives To Back Hiring Foreign Workers Instead Of Americans)
Voters ignore politicians’ calls for stronger border enforcement because they already expect strong border enforcement, Conway said.