As Texas steps up border security, critics decry "militarization"

MCALLEN, Texas -- On Wednesday, Texas Governor Rick Perry visited National Guard troops who will soon beef up patrols along the border with Mexico. Perry says Texas had to act because the federal government has failed to secure the border.

Perry has taken this political fight to a new level.

Members of the Texas National Guard recently completed combat training. The next deployment for some will be on the border.

"The price of inaction is too high for Texas to pay," Perry told a news conference in July.

Perry ordered 1,000 National Guard members to help other state agencies with border security. The guard will monitor and report illegal crossings. They cannot make arrests.

An online advertisement belonging to Perry's political action committee centers on the political response to the influx of border crossings. And asks for donations. Border security has become a prominent part of his political message.

bojorquez2.jpg
Rio Grande City Mayor Ruben Villarreal
CBS News
Some have been critical of his decision by saying it's political and he is looking to make a point on a national stage because he would like to run for president.

Rio Grande City Mayor Ruben Villarreal defends the decision: "It doesn't matter to me if the governor is sending them here to spread confetti, it doesn't matter a bit."

His city is 150 yards from Mexico.

"I need them here. I need the boots on the ground to take care of a community."

Perry has argued the surge of children that crossed into the U.S. diverted resources from stopping drug smugglers.

But the number of unaccompanied minors crossing the border has dropped by half since its peak in June.

The McAllen, Texas Chamber of Commerce sent a letter to Governor Perry urging him to "reconsider the deployment ... in light of the damage ... that will result to our community and the economy of the entire Rio Grande valley."

Monica Weisberg Stewart rents retail space in McAllen.

She says she is concerned about the impression of a militarized border.

"It also tells our visitors to the south that you're not welcome. It sends a very strong message."

Governor Perry has not said how long the National Guard will be deployed. State legislators plan to ask Washington to pick up the bill -- about $12 million a month.

  • Manuel Bojorquez

Comments

Follow Us

On Twitter