Reality Check: Hutchison border security ad deviates from facts

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by BRAD WATSON / WFAA-TV

wfaa.com

Posted on January 25, 2010 at 7:50 PM

Perhaps signaling an attempted shift in campaign issues, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison is airing a new ad critical of Gov. Rick Perry on border security.

Along with Debra Medina they are running for the Republican nomination for governor.

Illegal immigration is clearly a big issue to GOP voters, but Hutchison's commercial clouds some of her record.

It states that Perry talks about it, but that she has a strong record. "I have quadrupled the number of border patrol agents," Hutchison says in the ad.  It's true that since Hutchison joined the Senate in 1993, the number of border patrol agents has quadrupled.

But it's a distortion for her to say she did it.

As www.politifact.com/Texas found, much of the increase happened after President Bush pushed for more agents.

Hutchison has supported more border agents, but she is just one of 100 senators.

An announcer in the Hutchison ad then goes on to say: "Kay's plan will require state agencies verify legal status before hiring."

Not so fast.

Using the Internet-based E-Verify program, the state could check employment eligibility. But illegal immigrants come mostly for private sector jobs, and Hutchison's plan doesn't crack down on them.

The likely reason: Business groups have opposed such restrictions in the legislature.

The announcer in Hutchison's ad then claims that she will : "...enable Texas authorities to begin deportation of illegal immigrants who commit crimes."

Not so fast.

Hutchison wants Texas Department of Public Safety officers to enforce immigration laws. But as News 8 has reported, there have been problems with such programs when local law enforcement turned over undocumented immigrants to federal agents who deported them before prosecution.

Hutchison didn't mention her support for a border fence in this ad. Perry believes in building a fence in strategic locations, but not the length of the Texas-Mexico border.

Hutchison has always wanted more agents, but in this ad she made her case with one distortion — and a couple of "not so fast" statements.

E-mail bwatson@wfaa.com

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