Texas Gov. Rick Perry has committed up to 1,000 National Guard troops to the Texas-Mexico border to combat criminals that he believes are exploiting a surge of children and families entering the U.S. illegally.
Good for Perry.
Much of Texas and nearby borders have been overwhelmed in by tens of thousands of unaccompanied children illegally entering the U.S.
Since October, more than 57,000 unsupervised children and teenagers have entered the U.S. illegally. Most have been from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, where gang violence and poverty are reasons why thousands are leaving their homeland.
Their numbers have overwhelmed Border Patrol facilities in the Rio Grande Valley, leading Perry and the Texas Department of Public Safety to surmise that Border Patrol agents distracted by groups of children and families were leaving gaps in the border.
Perry has been a critic of the White House’s response to the border crisis.
In a letter to President Barack Obama in June, Perry requested help along the border, including National Guard troops, helicopters and giving troops “arrest powers to support Border Patrol operations until sufficient Border Patrol resources can be hired, trained and deployed to the border.”
As governor, Perry is commander in chief of Texas military forces. If Perry deploys National Guard troops, Texas must pay for them, while an order from Obama would mean Washington picks up the tab.
The deployment will cost Texas an estimated $12 million a month.
Texas Adjutant General John Nichols said his troops would be in charge of “referring and deterring” immigrants and not detaining people.
“We think they’ll come to us and say, `Please take us to a Border Patrol station,” Nichols said.
On previous border deployments, National Guard soldiers have served in support roles and intelligence gathering while the Border Patrol expanded its ranks.
While Perry’s action won’t totally solve the problem, he isn’t waiting for the federal government to fix the problem.
He’s waited long enough.