Joaquín Castro: Rick Perry ‘militarizing’ border
By: Jonathan Topaz
July 21, 2014 08:02 AM EDT
Texas Rep. Joaquín Castro on Monday said Gov. Rick Perry is “militarizing our border” with his decision to deploy state National Guard troops there.
“We should be sending the Red Cross to the border not the National Guard to deal with this humanitarian crisis,” the Democratic congressman said in an email. “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 continued. “I remain hopeful that our state can provide a more helpful response than to send armed soldiers to greet children seeking refuge from violence.”
Castro was responding to a report from a Texas newspaper The Monitor that Perry is planning to deploy up to 1,000 Texas National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border.
At a news conference on Monday in Austin, Perry announced that he has directed the state’s adjutant general to immediately prepare to deploy the forces to help secure the southern border. “I will not stand idly by,” he said in announcing Operation Strong Safety. “The price of inaction is too high.”
“There can be no national security without border security, and Texans have paid too high a price for the federal government’s failure to secure our border,” the Republican governor said in an accompanying statement.
“The action I am ordering today will tackle this crisis head-on by multiplying our efforts to combat the cartel activity, human traffickers and individual criminals who threaten the safety of people across Texas and America.”
Perry referenced law enforcement data — that undocumented immigrants have committed more than 640,000 crimes in Texas since 2008 — to make the case that steps are necessary to curb the tide of illegal immigration along the border.
In June, Texas sent officials from the Texas Department of Public Safety to the border to focus on drug trafficking and human smuggling.
Perhaps anticipating blowback to the decision, the memo states that the move does not amount to “a militarization of the border.”
“This is not a militarization of the border,” the memo says. “The DPS and the National Guard are working to keep any drug and human trafficking south of 83 and with the goal of keeping any smuggling from entering major highways to transport East/West/and North.”
The memo estimates that the deployment of troops, in addition to the DPS forces now along the border, will cost Texas $5 million a week. The memo reports that while the state hasn’t yet determined how exactly to pay for the increase in forces, the money will come out of “non-critical” areas in the budget.
Democratic state Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa also criticized the governor’s decision, saying it was a political decision and not about fixing the issue.
Perry has harshly criticized President Barack Obama for his handling of the influx of more than 50,000 undocumented and unaccompanied children across the
U.S.-Mexico border since October. The potential 2016 presidential candidate has accused the president of not caring about the border crisis, failing to visit the border and not taking strong enough action to combat the problem.