Texas Governor Perry sending National Guard troops to border
(CNN) — Texas Gov. Rick Perry will immediately send up to 1,000 National Guard troops to help secure the southern border, where tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors from Central America have crossed into the United States this year in a surge that is deemed a humanitarian crisis.
Perry also wants President Barack Obama and Congress to hire an additional 3,000 border patrol agents for the Texas border, which would eventually replace the temporary guard forces.
He made the announcement, which he called Operation Strong Safety, on Monday in Austin.
Perry’s state has received the majority of migrant children, especially in the Rio Grande region, and he has repeatedly called on the federal government to deploy the National Guard.
“I will not stand idly by,” Perry said. “The price of inaction is too high.”
After a meeting with Perry and others in Texas earlier this month, Obama said he was open to the idea but would rather focus on a permanent solution to the crisis that has overwhelmed border services and triggered nationwide political fallout.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the White House has not yet received the formal communication required for Perry to deploy guard troops.
But he said if Perry follows through, he hopes those forces would be coordinated “with the significant ongoing efforts already in place.”
The Rio Grande sector, where most of the immigrant children are turning themselves into the border patrol, has a large number of agents but it is also the largest crossing.
It currently has 3,000 border patrol agents covering 320 miles of land and 250 miles of water, which equates to 5.4 agents per mile. The Tucson sector, for instance, has approximately 15.7 agents per mile.
Both Perry and Obama have the authority to deploy National Guard troops, but whoever authorizes it has to pay for it. If Perry follows through, then Texas will have to pick up the cost.
Perry has been an outspoken proponent of securing the border since the influx of immigrants began.
The potential 2016 presidential candidate has used the issue to remake his image on immigration. His previous White House campaign was crippled partly because of a law he signed giving children of undocumented immigrants in-state college tuition.
Obama asked for $3.7 billion in emergency funds to address the influx of young immigrants, which hasn’t gained much traction in Congress. It includes money to fortify the border.
The House and Senate are working on their own plan, which includes a controversial proposal to change a law that prohibits the youth, mostly from El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala, from being immediately deported.
Protests have erupted along the border with activists demanding immediate deportation. Counter protests have also erupted, pointing out that many of the migrants are said to have fled violence at home.
Perry said Saturday that 80% of the people crossing the border aren’t children fleeing violence. He noted that crime along the border itself is up and that’s one reason more security is necessary.
“The security of this country is being put into jeopardy because of the lack of commitment from the federal government to secure the border,” he said.
Conservatives largely point to border security as their top immigration priority.
Resources for border security have steadily increased: More than 18,000 agents patrolled the border in 2013 compared to 10,000 in 2002.
The amount spent on border security has more than doubled. The Customs and Border Patrol budget jumped from $5 billion in 2002 to $12.4 billion this year.
The number of minors crossing the border has increased dramatically. Nearly 60,000 have come over since October, compared to 38,000 for the entire year in 2013 and 29,400 in 2012.