October 3, 2011

COMPASSIONATE CONSERVATIVE:

Gov. Rick Perry's Remarks to the Border Summit (Office of the Governor, August 22, 2001)

There are other challenges that require a unified approach, especially in the area of health care. A lack of preventative medicine means conditions that could have been eliminated through childhood immunizations show up in disturbing numbers later in life. Limited availability of medical specialists means conditions like heart disease and diabetes go untreated at alarming rates. In Texas, we recently placed a strong emphasis on preventative care when we expanded access to Medicaid for more low-income children by making the Medicaid enrollment process simpler. We allocated an additional $4 billion to the Medicaid program, and more than $900 million to the Children's Health Insurance Program. I urged legislators to pass a telemedicine pilot program that will enable, through technology, a sick border resident of limited financial means to receive care from a specialist hundreds of miles away. But the effort to combat disease and illness requires greater cooperative efforts between our two nations. It is a simple truth that disease knows no boundaries. An outbreak of drug-resistant tuberculosis, for example, endangers citizens of both our nations. We have much to gain if we work together to expand preventative care, and treat maladies unique to this region.

Legislation authored by border legislators Pat Haggerty and Eddie Lucio establishes an important study that will look at the feasibility of bi-national health insurance. This study recognizes that the Mexican and U.S. sides of the border compose one region, and we must address health care problems throughout that region. That's why I am also excited that Texas Secretary of State Henry Cuellar is working on an initiative that could extend the benefits of telemedicine to individuals living on the Mexican side of the border.

As a compassionate state, we know that for our children to succeed, they must not only be healthy, but educated. The future leaders of our two nations are learning their fractions and their ABC's in classrooms all along this border. Immigrants from around the world are being taught in Texas classrooms, and our history is rich with examples of new citizens who have made great contributions. We must say to every Texas child learning in a Texas classroom, "we don't care where you come from, but where you are going, and we are going to do everything we can to help you get there." And that vision must include the children of undocumented workers. That's why Texas took the national lead in allowing such deserving young minds to attend a Texas college at a resident rate. Those young minds are a part of a new generation of leaders, the doors of higher education must be open to them. The message is simple: educacion es el futuro, y si se puede.

We also know that poverty is not unique to either side of the border. Some of Texas' poorest citizens live in colonias all along the border. They often lack basic infrastructure many of us take for granted. Just today, the North American Development Bank announced it will provide $6.3 million in funding to hook up colonia residents in six border cities to water and wastewater lines. More than 18,000 residents will benefit from these water or wastewater hookups. And this November, by approving Proposition 2, Texas voters can ensure that their neighbors in colonias have quality roads so that school buses, emergency vehicles and postal trucks can reach residents, and residents can get to a job or a school reliably.

President Fox's vision for an open border is a vision I embrace, as long as we demonstrate the will to address the obstacles to it. An open border means poverty has given way to opportunity, and Mexico's citizens do not feel compelled to cross the border to find that opportunity. It means we have addressed pollution concerns, made substantial progress in stopping the spread of disease, and rid our crossings of illicit drug smuggling activity. Clearly we have a long way to go in addressing those issues. At the same time we must continue to deepen our economic ties, expanding opportunities for Mexican and U.S. companies to do business on both sides of the border. The outlook is promising, even if the road to prosperity is a long one. We share a bond as neighbors, and we find our culture north of the Rio Grande to be increasingly defined by the strong traits of people of Hispanic descent. Texas has long enjoyed a unique identity, an identity forged by an independent spirit, and the convergence of many different peoples. We must welcome change in the 21st Century as we have in every century before it.

Today, as we look to the south, we see a rising sun. It is perched above a people whose best days are in front of them. Let us endeavor to make the most of this new day through a new dialogue. Let us work together to combat disease, expand trade and provide educational opportunities. If we do, there are no limits to what we can accomplish for the betterment of all of our citizens. Thank you, and God bless you.
Posted by Orrin Judd at October 3, 2011 6:35 AM
  
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