AUSTIN (CN) – Texas will order 1,000 National Guard soldiers to the Mexican border to respond to the increased flow of children entering the country illegally, Gov. Rick Perry said Monday.
Blasted by Democrats as a political stunt for a possible presidential run, Perry’s call-up will cost Texas taxpayers $12 million a month.
Perry blames the federal government for failing to “adequately secure the border.” The announcement comes one month after Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott asked the Department of Homeland Security for $30 million in additional funding to deal with the “ extraordinary influx ” of children.
More than 47,000 undocumented children were arrested between October 2013 and May 2014 – a 92 percent spike from the same period a year earlier, Abbott said.
State officials then announced Operation Strong Safety – a “ surge ” operation involving sending state troopers to the border at a cost of more than $5.2 million per month.
Perry said the National Guard soldiers will “work seamlessly and side by side” with state law enforcement to go after criminal activity at the border.
More than 203,000 criminal aliens have been booked at Texas county jails for committing more than 640,000 crimes since 2008, Perry said in a statement Monday. Perry’s office claims more than 3,000 of the crimes were homicides and nearly 8,000 were sexual assaults.
“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,” Perry said. “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 claimed that Operation Strong Safety has already yielded results, with a 36 percent drop in illegal immigrant apprehensions during the first three weeks of the surge.
Perry said he asked President Barack Obama during a meeting two weeks ago for the federal government to send and pay for the National Guard troops to temporarily support the surge until 3,000 new Border Patrol agents could be trained and deployed.
Abbott applauded the deployment but said he expects the federal government to “foot the bill.”
Abbott “has asked all relevant state agencies to provide information on any past and anticipated future costs related to unauthorized immigration,” his office said in a statement Monday afternoon. “This information will assist Attorney General Abbott as he considers any and all potential legal avenues against the federal government to recoup all related costs that have been incurred by the state of Texas and its agencies as a result of the Obama Administration’s failure to secure the border.”
Critics have deemed the deployment a further militarization of the border that wastes resources that should go to humanitarian aid.
Terri Burke, executive directors of the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas said Monday it is “no surprise” that Rio Grande Valley law enforcement have not seen increases in crime during the influx of children.
“These are children who are running into the arms of the Border Patrol agents,” she said. “They aren’t sneaking in. They aren’t resisting arrest. They have come to escape the violence and crime in their own countries. Yet Gov. Perry insists on needlessly further militarizing our border for what can only be interpreted as a political stunt.”
Perry’s order comes one month after the ACLU released a scathing report on undocumented immigrants stuck in deplorable conditions in immigration prisons run by private contractors.
That 104-page report, “Warehoused and Forgotten: Immigrants Trapped in Our Shadow Private Prison System,” was the result of a multiyear study of private immigration prisons, particularly five prisons in Texas, which are authorized to imprison 13,548 people.
The Bureau of Prisons paid private prison companies $600 million in fiscal year 2013 to run “privately operated institutions,” the ACLU said in the report, which was released June 10.
The report said the companies are paid incentives for holding people in solitary confinement, and that the Bureau of Prisons uses the private contracts to avoid scrutiny and duck public records laws.
The resulting humanitarian crisis has led to plans for many of the children to not be housed at the detention centers. In June, Dallas County officials volunteered to house more than 2,000 children as they await immigration court proceedings.
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