Perry accuses federal government of failing to ‘adequately secure’ zone
HOUSTON - Special teams of Texas Rangers will be deployed to the Texas-Mexico border to deal with increasing violence because the federal government has failed to address growing problems there, Gov. Rick Perry said Thursday.
"It is an expansive effort with the Rangers playing a more high-profile role than they've ever played before," Perry said of the Department of Public Safety's elite investigative unit.
The forces, dubbed "Ranger recon" teams, are the latest effort "to fill the gap that's been left by the federal government's ongoing failure to adequately secure our international border with Mexico," he said.
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The governor early this year asked Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano for 1,000 National Guard troops and renewed his call last month in a letter to President Barack Obama. The request is bogged down over who will pay for the troops and how they will be deployed.
'Boots on the ground'
Perry's announcement Thursday comes amid increasing border violence, particularly in El Paso, mostly involving people with ties to Mexican drug gangs.
"They'll be deployed to high-traffic, high-crime areas along the border," he said. "They'll give us boots on the ground, put people in these hot spots no matter what or where they may exist."
Perry said the effort also would focus on remote areas where farmers and ranchers have complained of being overrun by smugglers and gangs from Mexico in numbers that also overwhelm local law enforcement and border patrol officers.
"Washington is shortchanging them, not giving them the support they need," Perry said. "As a result, we're having to dedicate our resources to deal with the challenges we have along the Texas-Mexico border and ensuing issues that porous border has created all across state of Texas."
He said the state would pick up the tab of $110 million, allocated by the Legislature in the past two sessions.
Perry's announcement drew immediate criticism from U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, who is running against the two-term incumbent in the March GOP primary.
"Today's announcement is yet another empty election-year promise from Rick Perry on border security," Hutchison spokesman Joe Pounder said.