Republican Gov. Rick Perry on Monday requested the immediate deployment of as many as 1,000 service members to assist with security at the U.S.-Mexico border.
The soldiers, from both the Texas National Guard and State Guard, will mobilize throughout the next 30 days to carry out “Operation Strong Safety” along the border region.
“I will not stand idly by while our citizens are under assault,” Perry said Monday during a press conference.
The service members will build on the National Guard’s existing border presence by working alongside law enforcement officials to combat criminal activity in the region, ensure the safety of all Texans, and deter other individuals from entering the United States. Residents of the Lone Star State have already invested half a billion dollars to border security, Perry said.
“But as all of the Texans who have fallen victim to the crime at hand of these criminal aliens will attest to, the price of an action is too high for Texans to pay,” he added.
The Texas governor, who is openly considering a 2016 presidential bid, has been highly critical of the White House’s response to the influx of immigrants entering the country at the border. Perry recently met with President Barack Obama to discuss the ongoing crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border, where tens of thousands of undocumented children continue to arrive after fleeing from violence and instability in Central America. He even suggested the Obama administration is orchestrating the current crisis.
But Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis, immediately following Perry’s request, called on the governor to send additional deputy sheriffs to the border because the guardsmen aren’t authorized to make arrests. She also asked that he convene an emergency legislative session to provide resources that will assist in transporting supplementary law enforcement personnel to South Texas.
Meanwhile, legislators in Washington continue to disagree on a measure to fix the current situation at the border, ahead of their month-long break that begins in less than two weeks. But House Speaker John Boehner on Thursday said he thought it would be unlikely for Congress to arrive at a decision before August. “I don’t have as much optimism as I’d like to have,” he said.
Lawmakers must also decide if they will approve Obama’s request for $3.7 million in emergency funds, an appeal from earlier this month. The Republican leadership initially met the call for help with resistance, citing objections to the multibillion-dollar price tag and demanding changes to the bill. Some, including Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn, noted that the administration has known about the escalating problem since January 2014, but didn’t include an aid request in the March budget.
“Texans are willing to put the boots on the ground, but we expect Washington to foot the bill,” Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said at the news conference Monday.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid last week criticized Republicans like Texas Sen. Ted Cruz of blocking funds to help the United States deal with the crisis. In response, Cruz on Sunday denied responsibility for blocking legislative action, and instead blamed Democrats for refusing to reach a solution. He said that Obama and Reid are holding the kids “ransom” because their views haven’t fixed the problem.
The death of immigration reform in Congress, along with the recent surge in children being stopped along the southwestern border, has escalated into both a humanitarian crisis and a political challenge for the Obama administration. Funds allocated for care of the children will be depleted by the end of August if legislators don’t agree on a spending bill.
Protesters swept the nation throughout the weekend, standing on highway overpasses and outside state capital buildings to demonstrate against illegal immigration. Supporters of immigration also staged events in recent days, including at the Mexican Consulate in Philadelphia and outside of the White House.
Americans believe immigration is one of the country’s top problems, for the first time since 2006, a recent Gallup poll found. They ranked the issue above other concerns, including unemployment and health care.