Governor Rick Perry’s plan to send National Guard troops to the South Texas border is drawing fire from local
Democrats. They claim he’s grandstanding and also wonder if Texas can afford the high cost of such an
Behind a podium inside the State Capitol and in front of dozens of reporters, Perry vowed to activate 1,000
Texas National Guard troops. He says they’ll focus on drug cartels that have used the situation along the border as a diversion to their advantage.
Perry says the plan will allow Border Patrol agents and DPS troopers to concentrate on responding to the unaccompanied minors crossing the border.
“These additional resources will help combat the brutal Mexican drug cartels that are preying upon our communities and also will help deter others before they have a chance to harm our citizens and become criminal aliens within our borders,” Perry said.
State Representative Garnet Coleman, a Houston Democrat, says the Governor is grandstanding and hasn’t done a thing to help the children who have come here alone.
“He’s chosen to use the military as opposed to using a civilian disaster relief circumstance that would improve the circumstances of those children,” Coleman said.
State Senator Sylvia Garcia, also a Democrat from Houston, says a humanitarian, non-military response would be more appropriate, but is also worried about the cost of calling up 1,000 National Guard troops.
“Even if we start August 1, if you put the numbers to it, that’s $100 million,” Garcia said. “I don’t know where this money is coming from. We’ll have to go back and authorize it because it’s not in the state budget.”
As might be expected, the issue has already become a somewhat partisan one, with Texas Attorney General
and Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott in support of the Governor’s plan. GOP Lt. Governor
candidate Dan Patrick is also speaking out for the troops. Republican Congressman Pete Olson of Sugar Land says the Border Patrol is overwhelmed.
“For example, the numbers last year, 37,000 came across. So far this year, 50,000 have come across,” Olson said. “Border Patrol expects that to go up to 90,000 by the end of year. 150,000 next year. 150,000, the same number that stormed the troops in Normandy.”
Perry has dubbed the troop call-up “Operation Strong Safety”. He says he hopes the federal government will reimburse Texas for the costs incurred responding to the border surge.