National Guard troops will soon patrol the border for illegal immigrants as part of Gov. Rick Perry's plan to stop the influx of unaccompanied children, and the plan is stirring plenty of debate.
Many of those who cross the border near McAllen are being taken to a Catholic Charities shelter, where they are given food, medical attention and showers while they wait to secure the money for a bus ticket to head toward relatives and await their detention hearing.
The welcome for National Guard troops is not as warm, however, if you ask local leaders, who call Perry's announcement to send troops to the border unnecessary.
"If this is his definition of securing the border, and that's how he proposes to address the issue of undocumented migrants from Central America, then it's not a practical solution," said Hidalgo County Judge Ramon Garcia. "There is no crisis. There is no public health crisis. There is no public safety crisis. These undocumented migrants from Central America are not creating that kind of an issue."
Perry has said the troops will serve as visual deterrents.
"You don’t need national guardsmen. You don't need to militarize our border. I mean, perhaps you need to hire maybe more civilian help to go out there and handle processing," Garcia said. "What can a national guardsman or any law enforcement officer do that's not being done? You can line up these officers, hand-in-hand all across our river, and the law says you can't push these people back into the water if they're wanting to step onto our shores. You've got to help them, take them to be processed."
At the border on Tuesday, there was a heavy presence of patrols in the sky and on the ground.
Right now, there are 3,049 U.S. Border Patrol agents along the Rio Grande Valley, and 280 additional agents have been temporarily assigned. The goal, according to the sheriff, is to have that number up to 3,800 in the next two years.