AUSTIN (CBS Houston/AP) — Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott says up to 1,000 National Guard troops will be deployed to the U.S.-Mexico border to stop the immigrants who are crossing the border illegally for criminal purposes.
“The purpose of adding more resources on the ground is not to address the women and children, it’s to address the growing reality that a lot of people coming across the border are here for criminal purposes,” Abbott, the GOP gubernatorial hopeful, told Fox News on Monday. “They’re killing, they’re raping, they’re robbing, they’re doing all kinds of harsh criminal activity.”
Abbott said that women and children have been sexually assaulted by people who have come across the border.
“In addition to the tens of thousands of children and women who are coming across the border, we are seeing very dangerous cartel members, MS-13 gang members, some of the worst of the worst,” Abbott explained to Fox News.
Gov. Rick Perry announced Monday that he will be deploying National Guard troops to the border over the next month to combat what he said Monday were criminals exploiting a surge of children pouring into the U.S. illegally.
Perry, a vocal critic of the White House’s response to the border crisis who is himself mulling a second presidential run, said the state has a responsibility to act after “lip service and empty promises” from Washington.
“I will not stand idly by while our citizens are under assault and little children from Central America are detained in squalor,” the governor said.
Abbott stated that the National Guard will be acting as a “force multiplier” at the border.
“We’ve seen time and again … that when we have more boots on the ground at the border it reduces the cross-border traffic,” Abbott told Fox News, adding that he is working on the legalities of whether the troops will be allowed to make arrests.
Abbott also said that the federal government has turned its back on Texas.
“I think the federal goverment has turned its back on the state of Texas. This is not a Texas issue, this is a United States of America issue,” he told Fox News. “Look at all of the different states in this country that are reacting to the situation and the president has turned his back.”
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Monday that Perry wanted to “make a symbolic statement to the people of Central America that the border is closed.”
“He thinks that the best way to do that is to send 1,000 National Guard troops to the border,” Earnest said. “It seems to me that a much more powerful symbol would be the bipartisan passage of legislation that would actually make a historic investment in border security and send an additional 20,000 personnel to the border.”
That refers to the U.S. Senate’s passage of comprehensive immigration reform that stalled in the House. Earnest also said the White House hasn’t received the kind of “formal communication” from Perry’s office that usually accompanies such deployments.
The Texas Democratic Party accused Perry, who spent part of the weekend in Iowa, of “continuing his routine of photo-op politics to further his presidential aspirations” rather than seeking long-term border solutions.
Eduardo Campirano, chairman of the Rio South Texas Economic Council said “adding a military presence to our communities will only create an inaccurate image that our safe and viable border region in the Rio Grande Valley is dangerous.”
President George W. Bush sent 6,000 National Guard troops to the border in 2006, and Obama eventually extended that deployment while ordering a second wave to Texas, California, Arizona and New Mexico in 2010.
On previous border deployments, National Guard soldiers have served in support roles — administrative, intelligence gathering. Some troops already participate in counter-drug operations on the border, though they don’t have arrest powers.
Perry had announced last month that Texas would give $1.3 million per week to the Department of Public Safety to assist in border security through at least the end of the year. He said the state has already spent $500 million on border security but “as all of the Texans who have fallen victim to the crime at the hands of these criminal aliens will attest to, the price of inaction is too high for Texans to pay.”
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