The state will send up to 1,000 National Guard troops to the Texas-Mexico border during the next month, state leaders announced Monday.
Gov. Rick Perry said the troops were being sent to combat criminals exploiting a surge of children entering the U.S. illegally.
The deployment will cost Texas an estimated $12 million a month. Texas Adjutant Gen. John Nichols said his troops would be “referring and deterring” immigrants and not detaining people — though Nichols said the National Guard could if asked.
There is a Texas Army National Guard Armory based in La Marque, but it’s unclear whether any local National Guard members will be deployed to the border. A Texas Military Affairs spokeswoman said Monday evening the details about which units would be deployed were still being determined and more information was expected to be announced in coming days.
More than 3,000 Border Patrol agents work in the border region, and Perry has repeatedly asked President Barack Obama to send the National Guard to the border. Much of the area has been overwhelmed in recent months by tens of thousands of unaccompanied children illegally entering the U.S.
As governor, Perry is commander in chief of Texas military forces unless those forces have already been mobilized by the White House. But if Perry deploys National Guard troops, it is up to Texas to pay for them, while an order from Obama would mean Washington picks up the tab.
This would not be the first time troops have been deployed to the border.
President George W. Bush sent 6,000 National Guard troops to the border in 2006, and Obama eventually extended that deployment while ordering a second wave of National Guard forces to Texas, California, Arizona and New Mexico in 2010. But the second round saw a reduced numbers of troops, and most of their work was limited to air patrols in counterdrug operations.
Perry announced last month Texas would steer another $1.3 million each week to the Department of Public Safety to assist in border security through at least the end of the year. In a letter to Obama on June 20, Perry made several requests for help along the border, including 1,000 National Guard troops, additional 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.”
It’s not clear why Perry would need the Obama administration to authorize arrest powers, and the governor’s office has not offered details before the announcement. Texas law simply states the governor can “adopt rules and regulations governing enlistment, organization, administration” of the Texas State Guard.
State and national Republicans have called on Obama to provide more support to Texas in light of the increased national attention to the border area during the last month.
On June 30, U.S. Rep. Randy Weber, R-Texas, said, “Frankly, the border states have been left hanging to fend for themselves, increasing the health and security risks to our citizens,” Weber said in a June 30 media release. “Thankfully, however, under Gov. Perry’s leadership, state resources are being used to slow the flow across our borders. Unfortunately, it is still not enough to solve this crisis.”
Weber has proposed legislation that would suspend foreign aid to Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador until those countries take “sufficient action” to address illegal immigration to the U.S.