Perry urges Guard to defend Texas’ border

Governor criticizes Congress’ inaction

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BASTROP, Texas — Texas Gov. Rick Perry told Na­tional and State Guard troops headed to the bor­der re­gion that they would play a key role in pro­tect­ing the United States against “narco ter­ror­ists” who are “spread­ing their ten­ta­cles” into Texas and deep into the Amer­i­can heart­land.

“You now are the tip of the spear, pro­tect­ing Amer­i­cans from these car­tels and gangs,” Mr. Perry told a uni­formed group of about 90 troops gath­ered in a ware­house at Camp Swift, about 35 miles east of Austin and 300 miles north of the bor­der.

Mr. Perry, flanked by lead­ers of the Texas Na­tional Guard and Depart­ment of Pub­lic Safety, noted that when he asked for 1,000 vol­un­teers, he got 2,200. The troops will aid the de­part­ment, which Mr. Perry and other Re­pub­li­can state lead­ers had al­ready or­dered to beef up staff­ing and equip­ment in a state-funded bor­der de­ploy­ment.

The DPS op­er­a­tion came af­ter bor­der cross­ings soared in re­cent months, with 63,000 un­ac­com­pa­nied chil­dren ar­riv­ing since Oc­to­ber, plus fam­i­lies, though their ranks have thinned in re­cent weeks. Most are from Cen­tral Amer­ica.

The state op­er­a­tion cost $1.3 mil­lion a week, and the Na­tional Guard de­ploy­ment added $12 mil­lion per month. Mr. Perry has called on the fed­eral gov­ern­ment to foot the bill, and so far is pay­ing for the de­ploy­ment by di­vert­ing $38 mil­lion in pub­lic safety funds ear­marked for emer­gency ra­dio in­fra­struc­ture.

The gov­er­nor would not say Wed­nes­day how long the de­ploy­ment would last, or how the state in­tended to pay for it, in­sist­ing that the fed­eral gov­ern­ment has a con­sti­tu­tional re­spon­si­bil­ity to cover the costs. Mr. Perry crit­i­cized Con­gress for go­ing on va­ca­tion last week with­out act­ing on bor­der fund­ing leg­is­la­tion, and com­plained that the Fed­eral Avi­a­tion Ad­min­is­tra­tion has barred the state from us­ing drones to pa­trol the bor­der. He called the Guard de­ploy­ment a “stop­gap mea­sure,” and said fed­eral au­thor­i­ties need to send more Border Patrol agents to the Rio Grande Val­ley, not points far­ther north.

Wed­nes­day was the first time that Mr. Perry had ap­peared with Na­tional Guard troops since he de­ployed them. Jour­nal­ists were in at­ten­dance but were not al­lowed to in­ter­view the troops.

Crit­ics in Texas and be­yond have ac­cused Mr. Perry of ex­ploit­ing the bor­der cri­sis, say­ing he is us­ing the de­ploy­ment to con­front Pres­i­dent Barack Obama and bur­nish his con­ser­va­tive cre­den­tials for an­other pos­si­ble cam­paign for pres­i­dent.

Mr. Perry as­serted Wed­nes­day that crim­i­nals have crossed the bor­der and headed north to Iowa, and North and South Car­o­lina, key pres­i­den­tial pri­mary states that he noted he re­cently vis­ited.

But he re­jected the ac­cu­sa­tion that he’s grand­stand­ing. “The idea that what we’re do­ing is pol­i­tics ver­sus pro­tect­ing the peo­ple of Texas, the peo­ple of this coun­try, is just false on its face,” he said.

Mr. Perry has not granted the troops ar­rest pow­ers, as he has the power to do, but they will be armed for self-de­fense, said a spokes­woman, Lt. Col. Joanne MacGre­gor, who re­it­er­ated Wed­nes­day that their pri­mary mis­sion on the bor­der will be to “de­ter and re­fer” in­di­vid­u­als to Border Patrol agents.

United States - North America - United States military - United States government - Texas - Barack Obama - Texas state government - Rick Perry - U.S. National Guard


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