Gov. Rick Perry will announce Monday that he is activating up to 1,000 National Guard troops to help beef up security along the Texas-Mexico border, two people with knowledge of the decision have confirmed.
Perry’s office announced Sunday that he would hold a news conference at 2 p.m. to “make an announcement regarding border security.” Perry will be joined at the briefing by Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, Texas Adjutant General John Nichols and Steve McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, according to one of the people familiar with the plans. The Texas Tribune will livestream the announcement.
“The governor will activate up to 1,000 National Guard Troops to bolster existing forces along the border,” the person said.
The McAllen Monitor first reported the decision on Sunday. The newspaper quoted Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa and an internal memo, which told of a slow build-up of troops over the next month, from another official’s office. Hinojosa did not immediately return a phone call.
The decision to send National Guard troops comes amid a huge surge of unaccompanied minors and families from Central America. The memo cited by the Monitor said the presence of Guard troops would not amount to a "militarization of the border." It said the troops would concentrate their efforts on combatting the smuggling of people and drugs from the border to points north.
But news of the National Guard activation was already sparking partisan tensions in South Texas.
“All these politicians coming down to the border, they don't care about solving the problem, they just want to make a political point,” Hinojosa told the Monitor.
Likewise, U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, said the state should focus on humanitarian relief, not more law enforcement.
"We should be sending the Red Cross to the border, not the National Guard," Castro told The Texas Tribune in a text message. "These children are not trying to evade border patrol and there's no reason to confront them with soldiers."