Almost four weeks after Gov. Rick Perry said he was deploying the National Guard to the border, the first wave of soldiers has started setting up at observation posts. Several guardsmen were seen Thursday afternoon manning an observation tower along the busy road leading to the Hidalgo International Bridge, which connects McAllen and Reynosa, in the state of Tamaulipas, Mexico near Matamoros.
Perry announced in July he would send up to 1,000 members of the National Guard to the Texas-Mexico border, on top of extra state troopers he already ordered there from the Texas Department of Public Safety. Perry says the National Guard will serve as extra eyes, reporting suspicious activity to authorities.
Federal Border Patrol agents have been overwhelmed by an influx of undocumented immigrants, many of them children from impoverished communities in Central America. The Governor has not been clear about how long the deployment could last.
“This is to be put into place until the federal government can and will do its constitutional duty,” Perry said Thursday.
Being seen as tough on the border could help Gov. Perry if he decides to take a second run for the White House. Perry just returned from a sojourn to Iowa – the host of the first caucus in presidential elections – and his new political action committee, RickPAC, released its first 90-second web ad this week, mashing up reports of the border crisis with television appearances by the Governor.
"The administration in Washington, D.C., they either are inept or don't care. And that is my position," Perry says in one of the sound bites featured in the ads, with one pundit calling Perry "one of Washington's worst critics” who’s taking matters into his own hands.
A panel of state senators who work on the Texas budget were told this week that Perry's deployment of the National Guard and DPS troopers will cost taxpayers up to $18 million a month, and they have to find a new funding source to keep it going more than a few weeks.