Rick Perry on border security

Today, Governor Rick Perry emphasized that securing the border with Mexico is one of his priorities. He insisted that the Obama administration has not helped Texas to control illegal activity in the border. This topic also arises in many presidential debates. The Governor of Texas puts stock in figures and facts that we will try to clarify.

First, he stresses that Texas has spent hundreds of millions of dollars in securing the border with Mexico. Despite the economic recession, Texas does not decrease the investment in border security, as Perry has repeatedly promised. According to the Legislative Budget Board of the state of Texas, most of the money assigned to border security will be managed by the Department of Public Safety and the Texas Park and Wildlife Department, which will receive $219.5 million in 2012-2013, $108.5 million more than in 2010-2011. It will be mainly invested in local security iniciatives, border prosecutions and investigation.

On the contrary, other areas like education and health have had important budget cuts. For instance, funding for the Department of Health and Human Services in 2012-2013 will be $54.2 billion, what means that it is decreased by $11.3 billion above 2010-2011 spending levels (-17.2%).

Second, in the Republican Debate in Orlando, when asked about border security, Rick Perry pointed out that “the federal government has not engaged in this at all”. However, in 2009, the White House and the Department of Homeland Security set the Merida Initiative in motion, investing $700 million in border security. There are another $500 million scheduled in 2011. Besides, as published by the Congressional Budget Office, in 2011, Washington has spent more than $200 million in customs and border protection as emergency supplemental investment.

Africa misunderstood

More than 12.5 million people are affected by the worst drought to hit the Horn of Africa in 60 years. Only in Somalia, 750.000 lives are threatened by a devastating famine and tens of thousands have already died. It has been considered the country’s biggest famine in decades.

However, American audience does not really seem to be interested in it, since hardly any information related to this topic can be seen in newspapers’ front pages. Sadly, massive deaths in Africa are not news. As Graber points out, to be published in the United States, foreign news “must have an angle that interest Americans”. They need to identify their lives with what they are being told; otherwise, interest decreases. For this reason, the mainstream media select foreign news that can be somehow related to national affairs.

International news (especially news concerning Africa) are lacking in context. The media may say that something happened in Africa but they do not explain the causes or the long-term consequences. Western image of Africa is fragmentary, disjointed, simplistic and insufficient. In Graber’s words:

They (the news) have no past, and without appropriate follow-ups, they also have no future. They are merely a brief presence in the parade of current events.

Without background interpretation, the media reflect not only an inadequate image of Africa but also a stereotyped perception of it.