Perry addressed members of the U.S. House of Representatives
Committee on Homeland Security at a field hearing at McAllen, Texas,
in the Rio Grande Valley, the region hardest hit by the thousands of
children and families who have streamed to the border in recent
He said Texas expects to spend an extra $1.3 million a week through
the end of the year to beef up law-enforcement efforts to deal with
the crisis, on top of $500 million that he said Texas has spent
since 2005 to help secure the border.
"The rapid influx of illegal immigrants has strained border
resources that were already insufficient to the task at hand," said
Perry, who is considered a possible 2016 Republican presidential
More than 52,000 unaccompanied minors from Guatemala, El Salvador
and Honduras have been caught trying to sneak over the U.S.-Mexico
border since October, double the number from the same period the
year before. Thousands more have been apprehended with parents or
U.S. immigration officials say the humanitarian crisis is being
driven by a mix of extreme poverty, gangs and drug violence in
Central America, as well as rumors perpetuated by human smugglers
that children who reach the U.S. border will be allowed to stay.
Detention and processing facilities in Texas have been inundated,
leading U.S. immigration authorities to begin sending some of the
immigrants to overflow sites elsewhere in the Southwest to help
screen and manage the surge.
Perry called for deploying 1,000 Texas National Guard troops to
assist with immigration enforcement while more U.S. Border Patrol
agents are trained.
[to top of second column]
The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Michael
McCaul, a Texas Republican, also urged President Barack Obama to
immediately dispatch National Guard forces "to free up Border Patrol
agents so they can perform their primary mission, and that is
securing the border."
Democrats have previously balked at similar Republican demands,
saying merely putting more boots on the ground would be of little
use. Critics say few of the migrants seek to avoid capture and
instead arrive ready to surrender to border agents.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest shrugged off criticism from Perry
that the Obama administration has done too little to deter illegal
He suggested that Perry instead lobby his party to support enactment
of a sweeping immigration overhaul bill that has stalled in the
Republican-controlled House after it was approved last year by the
(Additional reporting and writing by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles;
Also contributing to this report were Steve Holland in Washington
and Marty Graham in San Diego; Editing by Leslie Adler and Sandra
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