1,000 Texas guardsmen head to the border, mission unclear

Texas Gov. Rick Perry announced on Wednesday that he was deploying 1,000 Texas National Guard troops to the border as a “force multiplier,” but the scope of their mission and level of authority remain shrouded in mystery.

The Guardsmen are destined to support the Texas Department of Public Safety, as they cope with the unending influx of illegal immigrants across the porous border, KHOU TV-11 reported.

At a press conference in mid-July, the governor said, “These additional resources will combat the brutal Mexican cartels that are preying on our citizens,” but how that is to be effected remains unclear.

Adjutant General John Nichols at that same press conference described in general terms their job description.

“We’re planning on referring and deterring – so deterring them with physical presence and referring any people that we see that we think are illegal immigrants to DPS [Dept. of Public Safety],” he said.

So far, Gov. Perry has not granted the Guard arrest powers, though he is set to elaborate on his plans on Thursday.

“The notion is the National Guard is some sort of backup or force multiplier for the DPS, that really only works if they can track people and also detain them and hold them for DPS,” Josiah Heyman, director of the Center for Inter-American and Border Studies commented.

“It raises the question of whether the National Guard is adequately trained to summon up the reasonable suspicion,” Heyman wondered. “Do they know the allowable facts? Will they act on racial profiling?”

Former Border Patrol Station Chief Victor Manjarrez Jr., who helped coordinate President Bush’s 2006 deployment of Guardsmen to assist the Border Patrol, also had mixed feelings about the latest stratagem.

He said he was originally hopeful that they could relieve current officers from their nanny duties with the children, but “to have additional surveillance capabilities on a group of people that are surrendering to begin with doesn’t look like it’s the best choice.”

At a cost of $12 million per month to Texas taxpayers, the governor needs to articulate his policies clearly and forthrightly, especially if he harbors ambition to run for the presidency in 2016.

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Richard Berkow GET AUTHOR RSS FEED

Former political news reporter Richard Berkow lost his idealism in the Kennedy years, and his innocence in Vietnam, Lebanon, and the Soviet Union. He hasn’t mellowed since, and can be harassed at [email protected]

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