Texas Gov. Rick Perry has come under fire from American Indians over his "trail of tears" comment about illegal immigrants dying in the desert while attempting to cross the Mexican border into the United States.
In the 1830s, an ethnic cleansing campaign and forced relocation of tens of thousands of American Indians from southeastern states to Oklahoma was dubbed the Trail of Tears, during which more than 6,000 people are believed to have died.
Now several American Indians have contacted the Houston Chronicle
to complain about Perry using the term.
"That's like saying the plague and the Holocaust are the same because they both occurred in Europe," said John Tawatney of Houston, a Cherokee descendant. "That comparison is insensitive, to say the least."
Echoed Kenneth Knight, a Chickasaw from Houston whose ancestors died in the Trail of Tears: "That's a highly insensitive remark. [The Trail of Tears] was a forcible march of terror, and this migration is nothing like that. These people now are coming to Texas of their own choice."
Speaking on Monday at a Department of Public Safety facility after touring a federal detention complex which houses unaccompanied migrant minors in Weslaco, Perry said dozens
will die in the heat of the summer while attempting to cross the desert to enter the United States illegally.
He said, "I'm telling you in July and August, if the message does not get out into those countries in Central America, you're going to see a trail of tears again, from Central America to Texas.
"There will be numbers of people [who will] die en route. And that's the humanitarian side," Perry said Monday.
Perry spokesman Travis Considine said the Republican governor "was commenting on the resulting consequences [of human suffering] of the migration, not why it's occurring."
Considine added, "The parallel is rooted in the humanitarian catastrophe."
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