“I will not stand idly by while our citizens are under assault and little children from Central America are detained in squalor,” Texas Gov. Rick Perry said Monday. “We are too good a country for that to occur.”
Soon after, Perry ordered 1,000 National Guard troops to be stationed at the shared Texas-Mexico border.
There, the National Guard will work to assist U.S. Border Patrol agents who have been pulled from the field in order to assist with the influx of Central American children. The Guard will also assist Texas State Troopers and local law enforcement as part of Operation Strong Safety.
Their presence along the border is designed to reduce the flow of both illegal immigration and illegal drug smuggling.
Noble, but costly goals.
For Perry, the cost is worth it, saying, “There can be no national security without border security, and Texans have paid too high a price for the federal government’s failure to secure our border.”
Placing the National Guard along the 1,200-mile Texas border also brings with it a hefty cost. Operation Strong Safety alone costs Texas taxpayers $1.3 million per week. Bringing in the National Guard will add to those costs, totaling $17 million per month.
The costs seem ironic especially given the complaints about how much illegal immigrants and migrant children are costing American taxpayers.
Here’s another check: The reality check.
By law, the National Guard does not have law enforcement powers inside the United States. They can’t arrest anyone, let alone drug smugglers or illegal immigrants. All they can do is set up shop along the border and call either the Border Patrol or another law enforcement agency. They provide assistance, much like the Guard did in Arizona in 2007, so this isn’t the panacea it’s being made out to be by Perry and others.
The entire thing is nothing more than a costly show.
Prior to Monday’s announcement, Perry spent the weekend in Iowa setting up a potential run for the presidency. He’s putting troops along the border to look tough on illegal immigration. It’s the key to remaking his image — along with his new black rimmed glasses.
This is the same Rick Perry who, in 2012, ran one of the worst presidential campaigns in modern history. In one of the Republican debates, he famously forgot the third federal agency he would eliminate if he were president. Eliminating three federal agencies — Education, Commerce and Energy — was one of his main campaign promises. Perry forgot the “Energy” agency.
Perry’s plan will offer minimal help, if any, in stopping illegal immigration. He hopes it will make him look like a leader; that’s his plan anyway. He’s made this decision to put the National Guard along the border not because it’s best for his state or his country, but because it’s best for him.
Perry is a politician after all.