Texas Governor Rick Perry said on Monday he planned to send 1,000 Texas National Guard troops to the Mexican border to boost security during a surge in illegal immigration by children, a move that could increase pressure on President Barack Obama.
Perry, seen as a possible Republican candidate in the 2016 presidential race, said the guard troops were needed because the flood of children crossing from Mexico had pushed federal border protection to its limits.
“The price of inaction is too high for Texas to pay,” Perry told a news conference.
The governor’s announcement came just days before Obama plans meet with the leaders of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador on Friday to discuss cooperation on the influx of child migrants from Central America.
Perry said the National Guard would help the state’s surveillance and deploy some of its assets, such as aircraft, to monitor the border. He give no indication the Texas National Guard would work directly with U.S. Border Patrol.
During the nine months ending June 30, more than 57,000 children were detained at the U.S.-Mexico border, most of them from Central America, and double last year’s count, according to U.S. government data.
Perry said federal resources had been diverted to take care of those children, creating a vacuum for criminal cartels to step up operations.
Perry previously called on Obama to send 1,000 National Guard troops to the Texas-Mexico border.
Before the news conference, White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters: “If this deployment does move forward, it is the kind of step that we would like to see be coordinated and integrated with the ongoing response there.”
The White House and lawmakers have called the influx a humanitarian crisis, and the Obama administration has requested an additional $3.7 billion from Congress to address the situation.
Republicans, who say Obama’s immigration policies have encouraged the flood of children, have so far declined to approve the funds.
On the other hand, even as the Ukraine crisis was escalating with the downing of a Malaysian passenger jet last week, President Obama was on his way to two political events in New York, a Democratic National Committee fundraiser at the Trump Place Apartments, and a meetup for the House Majority PAC on Fifth Avenue.
Two weeks ago, with the border crisis dominating the headlines, Obama attended fundraisers in Denver, Dallas and two in Austin, Texas.
And this week, the president has fundraisers scheduled in Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
That’s nine political events in three weeks, a schedule that led ABC’s Jonathan Karl to ask White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest Monday whether it was a mistake for the president to be maintaining what looks like a “campaign schedule.”
“It was not,” Earnest replied. “What the president’s focused on is his ability to do his job. And what we saw is the president make calls to the Ukrainian president, to the Malaysian prime minister, to the Dutch prime minister. He called his secretary of State and he convened a secure call with his national security team to talk about both the situation in Gaza and the situation in Ukraine.
“So the president had all the tools at his disposal that were necessary to fulfill the responsibilities of the commander-in-chief,” Earnest said. “And if there were a requirement for the president to change his schedule so that he could attend to this urgent priority and fulfill his responsibilities as commander-in- chief, we would have not hesitated to make that change.”
The White House doesn’t anticipate any changes to Obama’s schedule this week, Earnest said.