Austin, Texas— Gov. Rick Perry said Monday he is deploying up to 1,000 National Guard troops over the next month to the Texas-Mexico border to combat criminals that Republican state leaders say are exploiting a surge of children and families entering the U.S. illegally.
Perry, a vocal critic of the White House’s response to the border crisis said the state has a responsibility to act after “lip service” from the federal government.
He rejected suggestions that Texas was militarizing local communities by putting National Guard troops on the ground or that crime data along the border doesn’t justify additional resources.
The deployment will cost Texas an estimated $12 million a month. Texas Adjutant General John Nichols said his troops would simply be “referring and deterring” immigrants and not detaining people — though Nichols said the National Guard could if asked.
“We think they’ll come to us and say, ‘Please take us to a Border Patrol station,’ ” Nichols said.
But sheriffs along the border said they have not been consulted and question the wisdom of sending military personnel who are not authorized to stop, question or arrest anyone.
“At this time, a lot of people do things for political reasons. I don't know that it helps,” said Cameron County Sheriff Omar Lucio.
More than 3,000 Border Patrol agents currently work in the region, and Perry has repeatedly asked Obama to send the National Guard to the border. Much of the area has been overwhelmed in recent months by tens of thousands of unaccompanied children illegally entering the U.S.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection didn’t respond to a request for comment Monday.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the White House hasn’t received the kind of “formal communication” with Perry’s office that usually accompanies such deployments.
Since October, more than 57,000 unaccompanied children and teenagers have entered the U.S. illegally.
Dallas Morning News contributed.