Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) announced Tuesday that he would be sending 1,000 National Guardsmen to the Texas border to help address the influx of unaccompanied minors entering the U.S.
Perry’s decision to bring in the troops was applauded by his fellow Republicans, but border officials openly questioned just how much good the National Guard’s presence will do.
The National Guard will not be making arrests and will instead observe the border and notify law enforcement of any undocumented immigrants, which doesn’t make sense to many officials at the border.
“I don’t know what good they can do,” Cameron County Sheriff Omar Lucio told the Dallas Morning News, referring to the National Guard. “You just can’t come out here and be a police officer.”
Lucio said that hiring additional police officers at the border would make more sense.
“The National Guard is trained in warfare. They’re not trained in law enforcement. This is not a war. This is people asking for help,” Lucio told the Houston Chronicle.
Starr County Judge Eloy Vera told the Chronicle that sending the National Guard to the border didn’t help in 2006 and 2010, so it won’t do any good now. Vera suggested that the surge of police presence at the border isn’t even helping that much.
“Those DPS people that are down here,” he said. “There’s one every mile, or every half a mile. And then every once in a while you’ll see a cluster or three or four of them chatting. They are doing absolutely nothing.”
President George W. Bush sent the National Guard to the border in 2006, which Obama extended in 2010.
H. Steven Blum, the head of the National Guard under Bush, told the Washington Post last week that troop deployment might not be the best response to the border crisis. He said he had yet to hear clear reasoning supporting the initiative.
“There may be many other organizations that might more appropriately be called upon,” he said. “If you’re talking about search and rescue, maintaining the rule of law or restoring conditions back to normal after a natural disaster or a catastrophe, the Guard is superbly suited to that. I’m not so sure that what we’re dealing with in scope and causation right now would make it the ideal choice.”
Blum said that the Guard might be of some help as part of a larger solution, but he emphasized that the situation at the border is complex.
“Merely sending the Guard to the border is not a panacea for the myriad complex problems of the current situation,” he said.