Gov. Rick Perry is deploying up to 1,000 National Guard troops to the Texas-Mexico border over the next month to combat what he said Monday were criminals exploiting a surge of children pouring into the U.S. illegally.
Perry, a vocal critic of the White House's response to the border crisis who is himself mulling a second presidential run, said the state has a responsibility to act after "lip service and empty promises" from Washington.
"I will not stand idly by while our citizens are under assault and little children from Central America are detained in squalor," the governor said.
The deployment of National Guard troops, which may act in a law enforcement capacity under state authority, will cost Texas an estimated $12 million per month. They will simply be "referring and deterring" immigrants and not detaining people, Texas Adjutant General John Nichols said. But he added that the National Guard could take people into custody if need be.
"We think they'll come to us and say, 'Please take us to a Border Patrol station," Nichols said.
Messages seeking comment were left with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Perry bristled at suggestions from some Democratic state lawmakers and business groups that his move means Texas is militarizing is southern border.