Gov. Rick Perry's announcement to send 1,000 National Guard troops
to the Texas border to combat the influx of illegal immigrants is being criticized by sheriffs who say counties need law enforcement and charitable aid, not militarization.
Perry said Monday that Texas would be spending $12 million a month to deploy the National Guard, believing the troops would be a "force multiplier" to help law enforcement tackle criminals at the border. The Guard would work with state troopers since it doesn't have the power to detain people.
"I don't know what good they can do," Cameron County Sheriff Omar Lucio told the Dallas Morning News.
"You just can't come out here and be a police officer."
Lucio also said that he and other sheriffs think money would be better spent hiring more deputies and police and suggested Perry's proposal was a political move.
"At this time, a lot of people do things for political reasons. I don't know that it helps," Lucio said.
Adj. Gen. John Nichols, commander of the Texas National Guard, told the Morning News that troops would undergo training and be deployed slowly over the next month. The plan would also include sending helicopters to identify suspicious activity and ground troops to provide water and medical assistance to migrants who have entered the country illegally.
"We are not planning on detaining people," Nichols said, but will be "referring and deterring."
Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar supports Perry's plan on the basis that it would help the Border Patrol, but other Democrats said the deployment was mostly for show and would not tackle deeper causes of the issue, according to the Morning News.
Sen. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa opposes militarizing the border. He told the Morning News that calling in troops is "a very simplistic answer to a complex problem" that involves gangs and poverty in Central America, desperate families, and a broken immigration system.
"We live in the Valley, we work in the Valley, and we know what's going on in the Valley. Yet politicians come in and politicize the issue without offering solutions," he said.
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