Posted: Jul 21, 2014 9:09 AM
Updated: Jul 21, 2014 4:10 PM
AUSTIN (AP) - Gov. Rick Perry said Monday he is deploying up to 1,000 National Guard troops over the next month to the Texas-Mexico border to combat criminals that some state leaders say are exploiting a surge of children and families entering the U.S. illegally.
Perry, a vocal critic of the White House's response to the border crisis, said the state has a responsibility to act after "lip service" from the federal government.
He rejected suggestions that Texas was militarizing local communities by putting National Guard troops on the ground or that crime data along the border doesn't justify additional resources.
The deployment will cost Texas an estimated $12 million a month. Texas Adjutant General John Nichols said his troops would simply be "referring and deterring" immigrants and not detaining people - though Nichols said the National Guard could if asked.
"We think they'll come to us and say, 'Please take us to a Border Patrol station," Nichols said.
More than 3,000 Border Patrol agents currently work in the region, and Perry has repeatedly asked Obama to send the National Guard to the border. Much of the area has been overwhelmed in recent months by tens of thousands of unaccompanied children illegally entering the U.S.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection didn't respond to a request for comment Monday.
As governor, Perry is commander in chief of Texas military forces unless those forces have already been mobilized by the White House. But if Perry deploys National Guard troops it is up to Texas to pay for them, while an order from Obama would mean Washington picks up the tab.