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Gov. Rick Perry often lashes out at the U.S. government’s border security efforts in his public statements, but on Wednesday, during an interview on Greta Van Susteren’s Fox News show, he extended his criticism to Mexican officials as well.
Perry said he would "dearly love" to attend today’s meeting between President Barack Obama and Mexican President Felipe Calderon to educate them about what’s happening on the Texas border. Talking about the violence inflicted by Mexican drug cartels as they wage a bloody war over territory and power, Perry said: "How many more Americans are going to have to lose their lives? How many more Mexicans are going to be intimidated and murdered In Mexico until these two governments come together in cooperative way?"
He said a couple of things touching on statements we've looked into before.
Perry told Van Susteren that "34,000 Mexicans have been killed directly attributable to these drug cartels since 2007." He’s mentioned the number of drug-related border deaths before, writing on his campaign website Nov. 30 that "the region of Mexico directly across the border from Texas has become one of the most dangerous places in the world, with more than 28,000 people killed since 2006."
In December, we checked a similar statement by U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith, R-San Antonio, who said in a Dec. 15, 2010, news release that "in the last five years, 28,000 people have been killed along the U.S.-Mexico border. We rated that False because Smith had failed to note two key facts: that all the deaths had occurred in Mexico and that they happened all across the country, not just on the border.
So, what are the latest numbers? In a Feb. 28 story, The Associated Press reported that more than 35,000 people have been killed in drug-related violence since Calderon launched a military offensive against the country's drug gangs in December 2006.
In October, we dug into another numbers claim about the drug war in Mexico after Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott told Greta Van Susteren that "more lives have been lost because of the war with the drug cartels in Juarez alone, just a few blocks from the United States of America, than have been lost in the war in Afghanistan." We rated that statement False because Abbott’s count of Afghan war deaths only went back to 2008. That war started in 2001, and as far as we can tell, more people have died from it than the drug wars in Juarez.
When asked by Van Susteren on Wednesday why the two nations haven’t made progress toward stopping the violence, Perry said a good first step would be "to put 1,000 National Guard troops on the border that I’ve asked for."
Perry has often talked up his requests for the troops. In a February 2009 letter to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, he asked for an "additional 1,000 Title 32 National Guard positions." And in April, we rated Half True Perry's claim that "we've got a 1,000 National Guard troop request that's been in front of this president for over a year and no response." We found that the Obama administration has repeatedly acknowledged Perry’s request for the troops, without giving Perry the affirmative answer that he desires.
And Perry’s Fox News interview wasn’t the first time this week that he has pressed his border security message. According to a Monday Politico story, Perry gave an "impassioned assault on the administration’s record of enforcing the border" while talking to reporters.
The article, titled "Texas-sized gaffe," points out that Perry called Ciudad Juarez -- a hot spot in the cartels’ war across the border from El Paso -- "the most dangerous city in America." The Politico story notes that after an aide told Perry about his geography goof-up, he "clarified that Juarez indeed belongs to Mexico, not Texas."
Also in Wednesday’s TV interview, Perry told Van Susteren that neither Obama or Calderon has been to the border to gauge how residents are faring. That’s fodder for the Truth-O-Meter.
Closing their exchange, Van Susteren responded to Perry’s invitation to come down to Texas by saying, "We’ll go walk that border!"
Related PolitiFact statements
Associated Press, "Mexico Nabs Alleged Head of ‘Resistance’ Drug Gang," Feb. 28, 2011