Texas guardsmen to bolster border

Gov. Perry cites the flood of unaccompanied migrant children from Central America

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HOUSTON — Texas Gov. Rick Perry said Mon­day that he would send 1,000 Na­tional Guard troops to the bor­der with Mex­ico to bol­ster se­cu­rity as the Border Patrol faces an in­flux of Cen­tral Amer­i­can im­mi­grants.

At a news con­fer­ence in Austin, Mr. Perry said the bor­der had been over­whelmed in re­cent months by tens of thou­sands of un­ac­com­pa­nied chil­dren en­ter­ing the coun­try il­le­gally, and that crim­i­nals are ex­ploit­ing the sit­u­a­tion for hu­man and drug traf­fick­ing.

The de­ci­sion came af­ter Mr. Perry spent the week­end in north­ern Iowa, his fourth visit in eight months to that key state for po­lit­i­cal pri­ma­ries, as he con­tem­plates a sec­ond run for pres­i­dent.

Nearly two weeks ago, Mr. Perry, one of the most vo­cal crit­ics of the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s han­dling of the bor­der cri­sis, met with Pres­i­dent Barack Obama in Dal­las to dis­cuss bor­der se­cu­rity.

Tens of thou­sands of Cen­tral Amer­i­cans flee­ing vi­o­lence in Guate­mala, El Sal­va­dor and Hon­duras have at­tempted to cross the state’s 1,200-mile bor­der with Mex­ico in re­cent months.

The in­flux of il­le­gal im­mi­grants, many of them chil­dren and teen­agers un­ac­com­pa­nied by any par­ent or guard­ian, has left fed­eral of­fi­cials scram­bling to find emer­gency shel­ters to house them and to man­age what Mr. Obama has called a hu­man­i­tar­ian cri­sis.

Mr. Perry, state law en­force­ment of­fi­cials and ranch­ers in the area have said Mex­i­can drug car­tels and other crim­i­nal or­ga­ni­za­tions were ben­e­fit­ing from the di­ver­sion of re­sources, and so more se­cu­rity was needed. Still, the pre­cise role the Na­tional Guard troops will play on the bor­der is un­clear. Pre­vi­ously, Mr. Perry has said he wanted any Na­tional Guard de­ploy­ment to use he­li­cop­ters and have “ar­rest pow­ers to sup­port Border Patrol op­er­a­tions.”

The de­ploy­ment will likely be used by both Re­pub­li­cans and Dem­o­crats as a new ral­ly­ing point in the de­bate over im­mi­gra­tion. Re­pub­li­cans have ac­cused the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion of fail­ing to se­cure the bor­der and help­ing to cre­ate the cri­sis with pol­i­cies that en­cour­age, rather than dis­cour­age, il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion.

Other Re­pub­li­cans in Texas and Wash­ing­ton have called upon Mr. Obama to de­ploy the Na­tional Guard to deal with the bor­der cri­sis, but Mr. Perry could ben­e­fit from be­ing viewed as the first to take ac­tion.

Dem­o­crats, in­clud­ing Texas law­mak­ers in the bor­der re­gion, im­me­di­ately lined up in op­po­si­tion to the de­ploy­ment plan, call­ing it an at­tempt to score po­lit­i­cal points and to mil­i­ta­rize the bor­der.

“These mil­i­tary don’t need to be around fam­i­lies and chil­dren,” said Jen­ni­fer Saenz, a spokes­woman for state Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hino­josa, D-McAl­len, who rep­resents part of the Rio Grande Val­ley.

Last month, Mr. Perry di­rected the Texas Depart­ment of Pub­lic Safety, the state’s top law en­force­ment agency, to be­gin “surge op­er­a­tions” to com­bat crime at the bor­der. The surge, which costs the state about $1.3 mil­lion per week and in­cludes in­creased air­craft and mar­i­time pa­trols, will con­tinue at least un­til the end of the year and is be­ing con­ducted, Mr. Perry and other Texas Re­pub­li­can lead­ers said in a state­ment, “in the ab­sence of ade­quate fed­eral re­sources to se­cure the bor­der.”

Days af­ter an­nounc­ing the surge, Mr. Perry sent the pres­i­dent a let­ter June 20 crit­i­ciz­ing “our po­rous bor­der” and call­ing upon him to de­ploy 1,000 Na­tional Guard troops to the bor­der and di­rect the Fed­eral Avi­a­tion Ad­min­is­tra­tion to al­low the troops to use Preda­tor drones to com­bat hu­man and drug smug­gling. Mr. Perry’s crit­i­cisms played a role in get­ting Mr. Obama to agree to meet with him in Dal­las, com­ing af­ter the gov­er­nor turned down what he called “a quick hand­shake on the tar­mac” with the pres­i­dent, re­quest­ing a more “sub­stan­tive meet­ing.”

At­tempt­ing to build sup­port and mo­men­tum as he con­sid­ers en­ter­ing the 2016 Re­pub­li­can pres­i­den­tial race again af­ter his di­sas­trous cam­paign in 2012, Mr. Perry told a group of Iowa vet­er­ans Sun­day that if Mr. Obama failed to send troops to the bor­der, Texas lead­ers would do so un­der their own au­thor­ity.

“We’ve sent the mes­sage that if we don’t get the sat­is­fac­tion that the fed­eral gov­ern­ment’s go­ing to move and move quickly, then the state of Texas will in fact fill that void,” Mr. Perry said Sun­day in the Iowa town of Clear Lake, ac­cord­ing to The Des Moines Reg­is­ter.

United States - North America - United States military - United States government - Texas - Dallas - Barack Obama - Texas state government - Iowa - Rick Perry - U.S. National Guard - Mexico government - Mexican armed forces


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