Political Strategists Debate Terror Threat at Texas Border

Wednesday, 18 Jun 2014 05:48 PM

By Sean Piccoli

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A pair of political strategists sparred over immigration and its connection to terrorism on Newsmax TV on Wednesday, with one chastising Texas Gov. Rick Perry for hyping the threat and the other insisting Perry "has a point" about America's porous southern border as an entryway for terrorists.

Perry told Fox News on Tuesday that "record, historic high numbers" of people trying to slip into Texas from Mexico "are coming from states like Syria that have substantial connections back to terrorist regimes and terrorist operations."

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Joe Lestingi, senior political strategist at the Chadderdon Group, told "MidPoint" host Ed Berliner that Perry's claim was "a bit of a straw man … put out there to sort of distract from the real situation."

Texas is coping with a surge in undocumented migrants, primarily from Central America. Their number includes many unaccompanied children who are being warehoused in Texas and Arizona by overwhelmed border control officials.

Lestingi said the "children that need our help" are a more pressing concern than a speculative terrorist threat.

Mary Anna Mancuso of politicalhype.com countered that Perry's concern is legitimate and one result of the Obama administration rolling out a "welcome wagon" for illegal migrants.

Both guests agreed that the U.S. immigration system is overloaded and broken down. They diverged over who to blame. Lestingi pinned the failure on a do-nothing U.S. Congress that won't pass comprehensive immigration reform.

"It's ridiculous that you're putting the onus on Congress," said Mancuso, "because as we know, it's the president who's turning this into a complete welcome wagon."

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