Texas Governor Rick Perry plans to activate and deploy the Texas National Guard to the Rio Grande Valley, Texas State Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, a Democrat, told The Monitor on Sunday. According to a leaked memo, the governor plans to announce in a press conference today his plan to call “about 1,000 Texas National Guard Troops” to plug perceived gaps in security along the border.
A recent influx of immigrants, some 57,000 children and families from Central America, has placed extra strain on the overlapping network of Federal and State agencies designed to keep the border secure. Last Friday, Perry and state leaders issued a directive to the Department of Public Safety (DPS) to begin a “law enforcement surge” along the border designed to alleviate some of that stress. The DPS emphasized that its mission “would not include enforcing immigration laws,” but rather to “deter and disrupt drug and human trafficking, and other border-related crimes,” The Texas Tribune reported.
Some fear that, with the eyes of border security officials turned to easing the humanitarian crisis along the border, Mexican drug cartels will take advantage of gaps in security to smuggle in drugs and other contraband. A representative for Hinojosa told Newsweek that the senator has asked for additional resources to help provide food, clothing and health care for the immigrants in the Rio Grande Valley. So far, however, Austin has focused on law enforcement concerns over humanitarian ones, the representative said.
While the leaked memo insists otherwise, Hinojosa fears that Perry’s plan to bring the National Guard to the valley amounts to a militarization of the border. "The National Guard are not needed here.… They have a different mission. They have a military mission,” Hinojosa said, according to The Houston Chronicle. The representative for Hinojosa did not know whether the National Guard’s mission would be different from that of the DPS.
By deploying troops, Perry looks be seen as stepping in to fill a gap left by President Obama, who recently asked Congress for $3.7 billion to help with the influx of immigrants. Perry has been a vocal critic of Obama’s response to the border crisis. The governor accused the Obama administration of ineptitude in handling the crisis, and even went so far as to suggest on ABC News that the president might be responsible for the influx of immigrants.