Not “Very Helpful”? Carlson Advances Myth That Obama Hasn't Increased Border Security

Fox & Friends co-host Gretchen Carlson claimed that Gov. Rick Perry was “exactly right” when he said that the federal government has “not engaged ... at all” in border security. In fact, under President Obama, deportations have increased -- including deportations of convicted criminals -- and the number of border patrol agents and funding for border security projects have also increased.

Carlson Says “Federal Government Has Not Been Very Helpful” On Border Security

Carlson: "[Perry Is] Exactly Right -- The Federal Government Has Not Been Very Helpful In This Whole Process" Of Border Security. On September 23, Fox News' Fox & Friends aired video of Gov. Rick Perry's (R-TX) claim during the September 22 GOP debate that "[t]he federal government has not engaged in [border security] at all." Afterward, co-host Gretchen Carlson agreed with Perry's comments, saying, “He's exactly right -- the federal government has not been very helpful in this whole process.” From the broadcast:

[begin video clip]

PERRY: The idea that you are going to build a wall, a fence, for 1,200 miles and then go 800 miles more to Tijuana does not make sense. You put the boots on the ground. We know how to make this work. You put the boots on the ground.

RICK SANTORUM (GOP presidential candidate): But it's not working, governor.

PERRY: You put the aviation assets in the ground.

SANTORUM: But it's not working.

PERRY: No, it's not working, because the federal government --

SANTORUM: You say you know how it works. Is it working in Texas?

PERRY: The federal government has not engaged in this at all. When I'm the president of the United States, I'll promise you one thing --

SANTORUM: But you're saying you put the assets there. Has it worked in Texas?

PERRY: We will put the assets on the ground, the boots on the ground --

SANTORUM: You said you have. Has it --

BRET BAIER (moderator): Senator Santorum, let him finish, please.

PERRY: -- the aviation assets on the ground and we will stop illegal immigration, we will stop the drug cartels, and we will make America secure.

SANTORUM: Can you answer the question? Is it working?

[end video clip ]

CARLSON: The interesting thing there is that Rick Perry seems to have -- there's a dichotomy in his illegal immigration policy. Because on the one hand, he does believe in this in-state tuition [for undocumented immigrants in Texas] - and, in fact, most of the Texas legislature does as well. Only four of the 181 members of the Texas legislature voted against this. So it seems that Texas is in line with all of this. But, at the same time, he believes in much stricter enforcement. He wants to build a wall. And he's exactly right -- that the federal government has not been very helpful in this whole process, a la -- just look at Arizona, as well. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 9/23/11, emphasis added]

PolitiFact Rates Perry's Statement “Pants On Fire”

PolitiFact: Border Patrol Has “Doubled The Number Of Agents Since 2004.” And There Are “More U.S. Agents Than Ever Patrolling the U.S. Border.” On September 23, PolitiFact rated Perry's statement that the federal government “has not engaged” in border security “Pants on Fire.” From the post:

Really? There aren't any federal boots on the Texas border?

PolitiFact looked at related issues this summer, concluding that U.S. Border Patrol has “doubled the number of agents since 2004.” Meanwhile, we found it Mostly True that the U.S. has more agents than ever patrolling its borders. Of those more than 20,000 agents in 2010, more than 17,000 worked along the Southwest border, much of which is Texas. No boots, huh?

Perry's own office has a Homeland Security Strategic Plan that notes that local and state law enforcement officials “partner with federal agencies like the U.S. Border Patrol” and also notes that part of Texas' $200 million investment since 2005 to fill border security gaps came from federal grants.

Meanwhile, at the end of fiscal year 2010, the federal Department of Homeland Security investments in border security had grown to $11.9 billion and included more than 40,000 personnel, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

We're not checking whether federal investment has been effective -- merely, as Perry said, whether the federal government has been “engaged.”

With more U.S. agents than ever patrolling the U.S. border -- most of them in the Southwest -- we've got to say, Governor, your own boots might be at risk. Because we rate your statement Pants on Fire. [PolitiFact, 9/23/11]

And Experts, Media Say Border Is “More Fortified Than Ever” Under Obama Admin.

There Are Currently More Border Patrol Agents “Than Ever Before In The History Of This Country.” The Obama administration has been increasing the number of Border Patrol officers on the southern border. During a July 2010 hearing of the House Committee on Homeland Security, U.S. Border Patrol chief Michael Fisher said, “Currently we have over 20,000 Border Patrol Agents nationwide, more than ever before in the history of the country.”

Based on Department of Homeland Security data, The Arizona Republic created the following chart showing the increase in border patrol agents since 2001:

Border chart

[House Homeland Security Committee Hearing, 7/22/10; The Arizona Republic, 5/26/10]

AP: “The U.S.-Mexico Border Is More Fortified Now Than It Was Even Five Years Ago.” A June 23, 2010, Associated Press article noted: “You wouldn't know it from the public debate, but the U.S.-Mexico border is more fortified now than it was even five years ago. Far more agents patrol it, more fences, barriers and technology protect it and taxpayers are spending billions more to reinforce it.” [AP, 6/23/10]

For more on the Obama administration's record on border security, SEE HERE.