U.S. News


Rick Perry Deploys National Guard To Be 'Force Multiplier'

The 1,000 National Guard troops don't have the power to arrest or detain anyone but are being sent as a message that the border is closed.
Posted at 8:48 PM, Jul 21, 2014

Texas Gov. Rick Perry said Monday he plans to send up to 1,000 National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border, something he's asked President Obama to do multiple times. (Via Getty Images)

Perry began his speech by referencing the record number of unaccompanied minors detained at the border. But he said there's another, more sinister side to the crisis. (Via Getty Images

"Drug cartels, human traffickers, individual criminals are exploiting this tragedy for their own criminal opportunities." (Via The Texas Tribune)

Perry said the National Guard troops will act as a "force multiplier," helping Border Patrol agents care for and process the tens of thousands of detained children while still combating drug smugglers and other criminal elements.

Perry has frequently criticized President Obama for not providing this kind of support already.

"This is a failure of diplomacy. It is a failure of leadership from the administration in Washington, D.C." (Via ABC)

But there are still some unanswered questions over what exactly National Guard troops will do at the border.

Without the president's authorization, the troops don't have the power to arrest or detain anyone. (Via Texas Military Forces)

Perry asked Obama to authorize those arrest powers in a letter last month, but so far the request hasn't been granted. (Via Office of Governor Rick Perry)

There is one way the troops can detain someone, though, and it could come in handy dealing with those unaccompanied minors.

If the person asks to be taken into custody, the troops can oblige. Texas Adjutant General John Nichols said that's what many of the minors are doing. "We think they'll come to us and say, 'Please take us to a Border Patrol station.'" (Via KDFW)

Perry also said earlier this month the troops don't need arrest powers to serve as a symbol that the border is closed.

"They need to be there as a show of force because that's the message that gets sent back very quickly to Central America." (Via Fox News)

But that still leaves the troops' mission sounding a little nebulous, which already has earned Perry's decision — and its $12-million-per-month price tag — a few critics.

A sheriff in one county on the border told McAllen's The Monitor newspaper: "The National Guard — they're trained in warfare; they're not trained in law enforcement. ... I need to find out what their actual role is going to be, but I think the money would be better spent giving local law enforcement more funds."

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest also took the governor's comments on "sending a message" as an opportunity to urge comprehensive immigration reform, which would bolster border security but has never been brought to a vote by House Speaker John Boehner. (Via Getty Images)

"It seems to me that a much more powerful symbol would be the bipartisan passage of legislation that would actually make a historic investment in border security and send an additional 20,000 personnel to the border." (Via C-SPAN)

Texas officials say they will continue to ask for the federal government's help in funding the deployment. The National Guard troops, along with a recent Texas Department of Public Safety surge combating border crossings, are estimated to cost the state about $5 million per week.