Texas Gov. Rick Perry announced plans Monday to send up to 1,000 of his state’s National Guard troops to the Mexican border within 30 days, saying that the Obama administration has not kept Texas secure.
The Republican governor said the troops will be integrated into a state law enforcement program called Operation Strong Safety, which is aimed at preventing criminal activity by Mexican drug cartels on the Texas side of the border. The move is necessary, he said, because the U.S. Border Patrol has been overwhelmed by a surge of unaccompanied minors who have entered the country illegally.
I will not stand idly by while our citizens are under assault and little children from Central America are detained in squalor, Perry said in Austin.
The governor’s aides said the National Guard will work with state troopers at observation posts. The Guardsmen will not be empowered to apprehend anyone, but rather will help identify potential criminal activity and alert law enforcement officers.
Perry did not outline any role for them in dealing with the unaccompanied children at the border; more than 57,000 of them have been apprehended by federal agents since October. The Department of Health and Human Services is responsible for caring for the children.
Illegal immigrants arrested by state troopers will be turned over to the Border Patrol, the governor’s aides said.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest suggested that Perry’s move is symbolic and urged him to offer public support for President Barack Obama’s funding request. He chided the governor for not providing the kinds of communication that you’d ordinarily see from a governor when they want to make a deployment like this.