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Rick Perry Asks Obama for 1,000 More Border Troops in Texas

President Barack Obama, right, is greeted by Texas Governor Rick Perry as the President exits Air Force One in Austin, Texas on Monday, Aug. 9, 2010. The two spoke briefly about increasing security along the Texas-Mexico border.(AP Photo/Jack Plunkett)
Jack Plunkett
Barack Obama, Rick Perry
AP

Texas Gov. Rick Perry greeted President Obama in Austin today with a request for an additional 1,000 National Guard troops in Texas at the U.S. - Mexico border.

The president flew to Texas today for a speech on education and a set of Democratic fundraisers. Perry was on the tarmac at the Austin airport to welcome the president. After the Republican governor clapped for Mr. Obama and shared a hearty handshake with him, he pulled a letter out of his pocket and handed it to White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett.

The administration's plan to deploy 1,200 National Guard troops across the border, including 286 in Texas, is "clearly insufficient," Perry wrote in the letter.

"American lives, jobs and safety depend on a more robust federal commitment to border safety and security," Perry said.

The governor, who is up for re-election this year, wrote that international drug cartels and transnational gangs at the southern border pose a mounting threat to American citizens. He listed examples of violence on American soil that were reportedly the result of the drug war, such as a 2009 incident in which a grenade was thrown into a bar in Pharr, Texas.

Perry reiterated previous calls for 1,000 additional troops at the Texas-Mexico border, as well as the deployment of unmanned aerial vehicles for surveillance.

"We must show the cartels that Washington will no longer tolerate their terrorizing and criminalizing the border region," he wrote.

White House Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton told reporters today that the president has been "working very hard on" border security, adding more security assets to the border than ever before. Burton added that the White House has been in touch with Perry on the issue.

"I know that our staff has contacted him for meetings and briefings to discuss the matter, and it's something that we will continue to work on with them," he said.

Perry's Democratic challenger Bill White, meanwhile, chose to campaign in other parts of the state rather than appear with the president today.