Texas Rep. Joaquín Castro on Monday said Gov. Rick Perry is “militarizing our border” with his decision to deploy state National Guard troops there.
According to Politico:
“We should be sending the Red Cross to the border not the National Guard to deal with this humanitarian crisis,” the Democratic congressman said in an email. “The children fleeing violence in Central America are seeking out Border Patrol agents. They are not trying to evade them. Why send soldiers to confront these kids?”
“Militarizing our border is the wrong response to the arrival of children,” Castro continued. “I remain hopeful that our state can provide a more helpful response than to send armed soldiers to greet children seeking refuge from violence.”
Several gang members and other criminals are among the illegals crossing the border. Young members of the feared MS-13 gang are also trying to recruit the unaccompanied children they are crossing the U.S. border with.
At least 16 of the youngsters being held at an Arizona border processing center have been identified as part of the gang, which has its roots in Central America.
The gang members, who admitted to carrying out torture and murder before heading to the U.S., are believed to have also used the center’s Red Cross phones to communicate with criminal networks.
At a news conference on Monday in Austin, Perry announced that he has directed the state’s adjutant general to immediately prepare to deploy the forces to help secure the southern border. “I will not stand idly by,” he said in announcing Operation Strong Safety. “The price of inaction is too high.”
“There can be no national security without border security, and Texans have paid too high a price for the federal government’s failure to secure our border,” the Republican governor said in an accompanying statement.
“The action I am ordering today will tackle this crisis head-on by multiplying our efforts to combat the cartel activity, human traffickers and individual criminals who threaten the safety of people across Texas and America.”
Perry referenced law enforcement data — that undocumented immigrants have committed more than 640,000 crimes in Texas since 2008 — to make the case that steps are necessary to curb the tide of illegal immigration along the border.
In June, Texas sent officials from the Texas Department of Public Safety to the border to focus on drug trafficking and human smuggling.
Perhaps anticipating blowback to the decision, the memo states that the move does not amount to “a militarization of the border.”
“This is not a militarization of the border,” the memo says. “The DPS and the National Guard are working to keep any drug and human trafficking south of 83 and with the goal of keeping any smuggling from entering major highways to transport East/West/and North.”