A displeased Gov. Rick Perry spoke out Thursday against Barack Obama’s rejection of his request last month for 1,000 more “boots on the ground” (meaning 1,000 troops, since 1,000 boots only equals 500 people) to be sent to the Texas-Mexico border.
He requested the aid to help keep the growing drug cartel violence in Mexico from spilling into the United States.
Obama told a group of reporters that he did not feel troops were necessary, but would consider in what cases National Guard deployments would be effective.
Perry, on the same day that he rejected stimulus unemployment funds from the federal government, saying that “[Texas] can take care of itself,” told Fox News that, “Washington has been an abject failure at defending our border.”
At a House panel meeting on Thursday to decide what measures Homeland Security Department should take to secure the border, Homeland Security official Roger Rufe agreed with President Obama’s assertion that deploying troops should only come as a last resort, in the off chance that other resources such as DoD and the National Guard were expended.
Many officials in border cities have applauded Obama’s decision not to use extreme measures such as sending troops. Patricio Ahumeda, mayor of Brownsville, Texas, openly criticized Perry’s plan, calling him out of touch with what is really going on.
“I appreciate and support Obama’s decision not to militarize the border because troops aren’t trained for this sort of thing. There was an incident where a national guard killed a shepherd in the El Paso area. It doesn’t work. The training is not the same. We’re not at war, and the violence and incidents that are occurring over there are not daily and are not spilling over here yet.”
He also pointed out that the crime rates in Brownsville and El Paso are significantly less than many other large cities. While El Paso had 418 violent crimes in 2007, Austin, Texas, had 540, and Washington D. C. had 1,347.
Meanwhile, just across the border, bodies are piling up in Mexico as the violent situation in places such as Ciudad Juarez has grown dire. The drug-related death toll reached 6,290 people last year, and has already hit 1,000 in the first two months of 2009.
The morgue and crime lab in Juarez has seven doctors, and two were hired in the last two weeks, to help with the onslaught of cases. Other morgues have been attacked at gunpoint, drug traffickers knowing investigators use the cadavers to help track the perpetrators.
Mayor Ahumeda believes the best thing Texas can do is work with Mexico and President Calderon to stop the violence.
“Texas needs to work with Mexico to prevent guns and ammunition from crossing the border and reduce the demand for drugs,” he said. “They’re not doing enough in that respect. I don’t mean pick them up and throw away the key. I mean going after those people in the United States, the criminals who are preying on young people who are hooked, and get them treatment, and teach our kids to stay off of drugs.”
Maybe he secretly wants the troops so Texas can secede from the union.
The latest news from around North Texas.
Holly is a journalist who has written and worked for various area publications including D Magazine and Examiner.