Texas Democrats Split over National Guard Deployment
HOUSTON, Texas—Members of the Texas Democrat delegation of congressional leaders seem split over the issue of deploying the Texas National Guard to the border.
Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) lashed out against the recent announcement by Texas Governor Rick Perry regarding deployment of the guard, while Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX), who actually represents a border district that encompasses the region directly affected by the deployment, supports the deployment.
Castro sent a terse letter to Gov. Perry this week, accusing Perry of advocating for a “police state,” according to a July 29 article on Politico by Jonathan Topaz. “The people of South Texas do not want to and should not have to live in a police state,” Castro wrote to Perry. The Congressman, whose brother, Julian Castro, might well be facing off against a Perry presidential bid in 2016, used theatrical language in claiming Perry was turning the border crisis into political theater. “[F]or too long, the border has been used as a boogey man for political gain,” Castro wrote.
Castro’s district does not include any portion of the Texas/Mexico border.
Contrast these comments with those of Congressman Cuellar, who actually has constituents who are directly affected by both the border invasion and the National Guard response. “I welcome the National Guard,” Cuellar said in a Dallas Morning News article by Christy Hoppe on July 21. While he said he does not want to see a “militarization” of the border, he stated, “So they come in and provide the support like they've always done in the past, and they provide humanitarian care," in an article by Rachel Roubein and James Oliphant on GovernmentExecutive.com. Cuellar’s district includes a large portion of the Rio Grande Sector and the Laredo Sector as defined by the Border Patrol.
It appears Castro is more concerned about the imagery of Governor Perry’s now famous gunboat ride with Sean Hannity than the images of dead bodies of illegal immigrants who continue to die in the ranch fields of Brooks County near the city of Falfurrias, Texas. These immigrants are dying nearly one out of every third day because there is not enough security along the border to stop them from reaching these fields 80-100 miles inland from the border.
The war of words between Castro and Perry continued as Castro stated in an email reported in the Politico article. “The children fleeing violence in Central America are seeking out Border Patrol agents,” he wrote last week. “They are not trying to evade them. Why send soldiers to confront these kids?” This statement was made despite the fact that Perry clearly stated in his announcement the National Guard would be deployed to assist the Texas Department of Public Safety by providing manpower and equipment to “Deter and Refer.” The focus of their mission is to help intercept drug shipments and human smuggling operations by drug cartels which are being missed because the Border Patrol is tied up with processing the children and incomplete families who are surrendering themselves to Border Patrol agents.
This was confirmed in a letter sent by Perry to Castro on July 23rd where Perry remarked that Castro’s “comments indicated a basic misunderstanding about the very positive role the Guard will play in tackling the border security crisis.” Perry added that his decision was largely a response to the Obama administration’s inability to secure the border. On Castro’s claim that Guard troops would militarize the border, Politico quoted Perry stating: “Nothing could be further from the truth.”
Bob Price is a staff writer and a member of the original Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX.