Texas Gov. Rick Perry has been slammed by a state senator from south Texas who leaked the governor’s planned Monday announcement that he’s sending 1,000 Texas National Guard troops to the border.
State Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, a McAllen Democrat, revealed that Perry was deploying the troops in an alleged attempt to prevent drug smuggling and human trafficking in the region, according to The Monitor.
The troops, who will arrive gradually over the next month, will support troopers from the Texas Department of Public Safety who are overwhelmed by the thousands of undocumented immigrants pouring across the Rio Grande every month.
But Hinojosa said, “My position is that we do not need to militarize the border. All these politicians coming down to border, they don’t care about solving the problem, they just want to make a political point.”
Cartels “are taking advantage of the situation. But our local law enforcement from the sheriff’s offices of the different counties to the different police departments are taking care of the situation.
"This is a civil matter, not a military matter. These are young people, just families coming across. They’re not armed. They’re not carrying weapons."
Rep. Joaquin Castro, Texas Democrat, also spoke out against Perry’s decision.
"We should be sending the Red Cross to the border not the National Guard to deal with this humanitarian crisis," Castro said in an email, Politico reports. ”The children fleeing violence in Central America are seeking out Border Patrol agents. They are not trying to evade them. Why send soldiers to confront these kids?”
"Militarizing our border is the wrong response to the arrival of children," Castro said. "I remain hopeful that our state can provide a more helpful response than to send armed soldiers to greet children seeking refuge from violence."
Hinojosa admitted that local officials have appealed for extra law enforcement and more aid to feed and clothe the surge of undocumented immigrant children, mostly from Central America, crossing the Rio Grande.
A state memo obtained by The Monitor denied that the guards were being deployed as “a militarization of the border,” saying that the DPS and the National Guard are working to keep drug smugglers and human traffickers using major highways.
"Smuggling has supposedly, according to DPS, moved West on the border with an increase in Jim Hogg County," the memo states. "DPS especially wants to apply the Guard in the rural areas to patrol."
The National Guard deployment will cost $12 million a month, which will bring the total pricetag of troopers on the border to $5 million per week, The Monitor said.
"It is not clear where the money will come from in the budget," the memo said, although Perry’s office says the funding will come from "non-critical" areas, such as healthcare or transportation.
In Iowa over the weekend, Perry told a small meeting that if President Barack Obama ignored his request to send 1,000 National Guard troops to the border, he would make the order himself, according to the Houston Chronicle.
"We’ve sent the message that if we don’t get the satisfaction that the federal government’s going to move and move quickly, then the state of Texas will, in fact, fill that void," Perry said.