by Mark Reagan
Texas Gov. Rick Perry via Shutterstock
As rhetoric and political maneuvering continue to revolve around border and immigration policies, Texas’ governor upped the ante and ordered the mobilization of 1,000 Texas National Guard troops, who will be sent to the Rio Grande Valley.
“There can be no national security without border security, and Texans have paid too high a price for the federal government’s failure to secure our border,” Governor Rick Perry said in a news release. “The action I am ordering today will tackle this crisis head-on by multiplying our efforts to combat the cartel activity, human traffickers and individual criminals who threaten the safety of people across Texas and America.”
According to Perry, the National Guard will act as a force multiplier effect on the ground and will provide additional air support. In normal speak, this means bolstering local and state law enforcement agencies that are already working on the border.
“These additional resources will help combat brutal Mexican drug cartels preying on our communities,” Perry said during the press conference, which was streamed live by the Texas Tribune.
During the press conference, Lt. Governor David Dewhurst blamed the media for misrepresenting the border “immigration crisis” as being about undocumented minors, who are a “tiny fraction” of crossers. Dewhurst said the Cuellar-Cornyn Bill, which would essentially mean faster deportations for children, is an easy solution to that small part of the “immigration crisis.”
“We’ve seen estimates that at least a quarter of those apprehended have criminal records,” Dewhurst said.
And Texans will pay the costs surrounding the National Guard mobilization.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who is running for governor, said his office will continue working with Washington D.C.-based officials on funding issues because he said he doesn’t want to litigate – though his office is prepared to take legal action.
“Texans are willing to put the boots on the ground, but we expect Washington to foot the bill,” Abbott said.
Naturally, not everyone agrees with Perry.
Texas Democratic Party Communications Director Emmanuel Garcia said community leaders in the Rio Grande Valley have expressed concerns about what Garcia calls “border militarization.”
“Today, Governor Rick Perry ignored those voices. While those in the Valley are working hard to care for thousands of children in need and demanding we fix our broken immigration system, Governor Perry is continuing his routine of photo-op politics to further his Presidential aspirations,” Garcia said in a statement. “We all respect the service of our Texas National Guard and we know that they can accomplish almost anything, but Perry’s use of our guard to score political points is wrong. This is a time for humanitarian support.”
State Sen. Wendy Davis, a democrat who is running against Abbott for governor, said she called on Perry a month ago to convene an emergency legislative session to figure out how to aid law enforcement personnel in an effort to curb an influx of undocumented immigrants into the Rio Grande Valley.
“Unfortunately, while my call for action went unheeded, the need for action remains, given the continued failure by our leaders in Washington to live up to their responsibility to secure our border,” Davis said, sounding a lot like her counterparts – Perry and Abbott – who are also blaming Washington.