Texas Governor Rick Perry speaks at a press conference in the Rio Grande Valley as Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw looks on. This photo from Perry's website was taken during a press conference detailing a law enforcement surge on the border.
A day before July 4 Independence Day celebrations, Texas Governor Rick Perry traveled to McAllen, a bustling city near the Rio Grande, and told members of the U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security that sending undocumented children home immediately would be more humane then allowing them to stay.
“Nobody is doing any of these children the slightest favor by delaying a rapid return to their countries of origin, which in many cases is not Mexico,” according to a press release containing Perry’s prepared statements. “Allowing them to remain here will only encourage the next group of individuals to undertake the same life-threatening journey.”
The President of the National Council of La Raza, the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States, has a drastically different opinion than the Texas governor.
“What we’re seeing played out here is an urgent international humanitarian issue,” NCLR President Janet Murgia said in a June 25 news release. “These are young children fleeing violence and seeking a safe haven. Whether in their own country, in neighboring nations or at the U.S. border, they are refugees and should be treated as such. The idea that some would claim other wise is a tragic consequence of a needlessly polarized immigration debate. How we address this issue reflects how well we are upholding our values as a nation.”
Thousands of immigrants have been pouring into the Rio Grande Valley this year, and during the last several weeks politicians and reporters have toured crowded Border Patrol facilities in San Antonio, McAllen and Brownsville. According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, more than 160,000 undocumented immigrants have been apprehended this fiscal year — already more than last fiscal year where 154,483 were apprehended.
Perry in his statements said the conditions children are housed in are difficult, but laid the blame on Washington for inaction. But according to Perry, undocumented and unaccompanied children aren’t the only crisis in the Rio Grande Valley and Texas.
“We’ve already had one confirmed case of H1N1 in Texas, and have been informed by our federal partners of two additional cases of Type A influenza that are likely to be H1N1, in addition to reports of other illnesses at other detention facilities,” Perry said.
And then there are the terrorists.
“We’re also in danger at the hands of those who might be slipping through from countries with known terrorist ties. With a range of potential threats facing us from abroad, this is not the time to turn our attention elsewhere,” Perry said.
Between undocumented immigration, drug and human smuggling, and cartel activity, Perry believes more law enforcement on a border already saturated with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies is the answer.
“Our current operations include increased DPS (Department of Public Safety) aircraft patrols, maritime operations, and the utilization of Ranger Recon teams, who are able to quickly respond to remote areas were suspected activity is taking place,” Perry said.
Additionally, the state is coughing up $1.3 million a week to increase law-enforcement efforts throughout the year. And Perry wants the federal government to start footing the bill.
“We’ve been fulfilling a federal responsibility, and the hardworking people of Texas shouldn’t have to shoulder that cost on their own,” Perry said.
Support Local Journalism.
Join the San Antonio Current Press Club
Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.
Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.
Join the San Antonio Press Club for as little as $5 a month.