Texas Governor Rick Perry (R ) on Thursday called on President Barack Obama to take steps to secure the southern U.S. border, including putting in place thousands of new border agents to help stop the flow of illegal immigrants.
"[M]y message to President Obama is to secure this border, Mr. President," Perry said at a House Judiciary Committee field hearing in Texas. "Finally, address this issue and secure this border."
Texas Gov. Rick Perry said Thursday that the federal government needs to secure the southern U.S. border, and then reimburse Texas for costs it has incurred in doing this job. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)
"Invest sufficient resources to put an adequate number of border patrol agents on the ground permanently, utilizing existing technology including drones and other assets."
Perry said his plan would be to temporarily put 1,000 National Guard troops on the border, while 3,000 permanent border agents are trained and assigned.
Once that's done, Perry said he wants the government to reimburse Texas for the more than $500 million Texas has spent since 2005 on border enforcement.
"We have been fulfilling a federal responsibility, and the hardworking people of the state of Texas shouldn't have to shoulder that cost by themselves," he said.
Obama next week is expected to ask Congress to approve $2 billion in new spending to address the humanitarian crisis at the border. Perry said he "readily" welcomed that plan, but said he federal government needs to do more, including more National Guard units in Texas, and measures related to the health of immigrants that are entering the country.
"[I]f the U.S. Border Patrol is going to release illegal immigrants into our communities to await a court date, every one of them needs to be medically screened to ensure their health, and also the health of our citizens as well," he said.
Perry also stressed that the children being apprehended need to be returned immediately to their home countries, and rejected the idea that letting them stay is more humane.
"Some may think by allowing them to stay here that it's a more humane option. I assure you it's not," he told the committee. "Nobody's doing any of these children the slightest favor by delaying a rapid return to their countries of origin."
"Allowing them to remain here will only encourage the next group of individuals to undertake this very, very dangerous and life-threatening journey," he added. "And those who come must be sent back to demonstrate in no uncertain terms that risking your lives on the top of those trains, and the ways that they are coming here, it's not worth that."
The Judiciary Committee's hearing is the latest GOP attempt to explore border issues over the July 4 recess. Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) reiterated the Republican argument that children are flooding across the border because the Obama administration has indicated it wants to find a way to let all illegal immigrants stay.
"To fix this crisis, the administration must first recognize that its failed immigration and border policies are the source of this problem," McCaul said.
The Obama administration and congressional Democrats have said the flood of children is a sign of families trying to avoid bad economies in Central America, and violence. But McCaul rejected that idea today.
"These conditions are not new, and they have not suddenly gotten worse," he said.