Tensions are high at the US-Mexico border. In the last several weeks, waves of children have attempted to flee their Central American homes for the relative safety of the United States. Political instability, rampant crime and corruption and crippling poverty spur these kids to seek refuge in their northern neighbor. In the wake of what President Obama refers to as a "humanitarian crisis," lawmakers and officials have scrambled to find a solution to the increasingly difficult situation.
On Monday Texas Governor Rick Perry announced that he will mobilize a thousand National Guard troops to patrol the border. Of course, this decision is being met with outrage from the left, and not solely because it was recommended by a Republican.
Texas Representative (and Democrat) Joaquín Castro has publicly rejected what he calls the "militarization" of the border. “We should be sending the Red Cross to the border not the National Guard to deal with this humanitarian crisis . . . The children fleeing violence in Central America are seeking out border patrol agents. They are not trying to evade them. Why send soldiers to confront these kids?”
According to Perry, however, the National Guard troops won't focus on the children streaming north from Central America, but on the violence caused by drug cartels operating in Mexico. Perry claims that President Obama's "humanitarian crisis" has stripped resources from the ongoing war on drugs and human trafficking.
Even further, Perry and Texas members of the GOP claim that policing the Texas-Mexico border is not now and never has been the responsibility of Texas. Securing and maintaining the integrity of our borders, they say, should be up to the federal government. Perry and his cohorts believe that the the current administration has fallen asleep at the border protection wheel. As a result, they claim that the 1.3 million a week that Texas is spending to staff the border is money that should be coming out of the White House's pocket.
Incidentally, you can bet this is just one critique Rick Perry - who spent last weekend in Iowa for the fourth time in 8 months - will level against the Obama administration during his inevitable run for president in 2016. In fact, his obvious presidential aspirations have many calling this ploy an attempt to look strong on the issue of immigration.
Political ladder-climbing aside, this does seem to be an issue where Perry might not be totally off-base (which marks a first for the politician's career). The increased number of immigrants into the United States has caused the population of the border states to get antsy. After all, while the attention is focused on the poor orphans, drug cartels will continue to operate their lucrative human trafficking operations with relative impunity. Some people have even gone so far as to suggest the whole problem is a tactical ploy on the part of Mexican cartels.
With all that violence around, with those upset people on edge, and with a growing number of kids and teens who don't have anywhere else to go, it's entirely possible that moving the National Guard to the area will have the effect of subduing the potentially catastrophic situation.
Perry's decision will send as many as a thousand National Guard troops to patrol the US-Mexico border by the end of the month.