A Texas Department of Public Safety helicopter patrols as part of the ongoing border law enforcement surge, Operation Strong Safety. (State photo/file)
WASHINGTON (July 21, 2014)—The number of unaccompanied minors crossing the border is dropping significantly, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Monday.
A daily average of about 150 children were apprehended along the Rio Grande border in the first two weeks of July, down from an average of 355 per day in June, he said.
President Barack Obama plans to meet Friday with the presidents of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, the three countries that are home to many of the children.
The U.S. has been urging the governments of those countries to take steps to stem the exodus of children and warning that the U.S. will take steps to send the young immigrants back promptly.
AUSTIN (July 21, 2014) Texas Gov. Rick Perry Monday directed Texas Adjutant General John Nichols to prepare to deploy as many as 1,000 National Guard troops to the border to join the Texas Department of Public Safety’s ongoing law enforcement surge, Operation Strong Safety.
The DPS operation is focused on combating criminal activity in the region that state officials say results from the federal government’s failure to adequately secure the border.
More than 3,000 Border Patrol agents currently work in South Texas, and Perry has repeatedly asked President Barack Obama to send the National Guard to the border, as well.
“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,” Perry said Monday.
“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 reiterated his request to the president to deploy National Guard troops to the border during a brief meeting two weeks ago when Mr. Obama was in Texas.
If the president had activated National Guard troops to what’s called Title 32 full-time status, the federal government would have picked up the tab for the deployment, but under Perry’s order Monday, Texas taxpayers will bear the cost.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott praised Perry's move.
“Make no mistake,” he said, “This is more than a border crisis, this is a national crisis affecting communities and taxpayers across the country.”
Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples applauded the action.
“This crisis is not just about unaccompanied children. We will absolutely ensure children are helped and not abused,” he said.
”This is a national emergency about the drug cartels and those individuals seeking illegal entry who continue to make a mockery of the sovereignty of our nation’s security,” he said.
But not everyone agreed with Perry’s decision.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis said rather than troops, the state should deploy additional sheriff’s deputies, who are authorized to make arrests.
“I reiterate my call for Governor Perry to immediately convene for an emergency legislative session to provide the resources to get additional law enforcement personnel on the ground immediately,” she said in a statement.
State Rep. Ana Hernandez, D-Houston, said state officials “should not be using the crisis along the border for their own political gamesmanship.”
“Let’s continue to work to find a substantive solution to this complex situation and stop sending political messages,” she said in a statement.