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Rick Perry’s National Guard Deployment Even More Pointless Than It First Appeared

Texas Goveronor Perry activates National Guard for border security

The head of the Texas National Guard conceded to reporters that those 1,000 troops that Governor Perry ordered to the border earlier this week are basically going to do nothing but sit around and watch:

McALLEN, Texas (AP) — Most of the 1,000 National Guard troops headed to the Texas-Mexico border will take up observational positions and detain people only if they interfere with their mission, a top general over the deployment said Tuesday.

Texas Adjutant General John Nichols said the troops will help deter illicit traffic while U.S. Border Patrol agents deal with a record spike of unaccompanied minors entering the country. The Texas National Guard troops are headed to border on the orders of Republican Gov. Rick Perry, who has been a chief critic of the White House response to the crisis and is considering another run for president in 2016.

Nichols said troops will be armed for their safety, but when asked if their weapons would be loaded would say only that ammunition would be in magazines.

“That’s about as far as I want to go because if the cartel folks understand what we can and can’t do then they may take advantage of that,” Nichols told The Associated Press.

Nichols said troops will deploy to the Rio Grande Valley in the next few weeks and that no end date for the operation has been set.

The deployment will cost Texas an estimated $12 million a month — on top of an extra $1.3 million a week the state has recently been giving its Department of Public Safety to ramp up operations along the border.

Since October, more than 57,000 unaccompanied children and teenagers have entered the U.S. illegally — more than double compared with the same period a year earlier. Most have been from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, where rampant gang violence and intense poverty have driven tens of thousands of people outside their borders.

More than 3,000 Border Patrol agents currently work in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley, and Perry had repeatedly asked President Barack Obama to send the National Guard to the border amid the influx.

Perry’s order has drawn backlash from Democrats and even some local sheriffs and police chiefs in counties along the Texas border. They call the deployment an ill-conceived militarization and have questioned assertions by Perry and other Republicans who say criminals are exploiting the surge while the Border Patrol is overwhelmed taking in children.

What this means, of course, is that Perry’s call up order is even more utterly pointless than I initially thought it was. At the time, the announcement made it sound as if the Guard would be assisting and supplementing the duties of the Border Patrol at the border, both in connection with the processing of the Central American migrants that are the center of the current border crisis and with intercepting people just crossing the border illegally generally. If that had been there mission, then perhaps they might have actually served a useful, if limited, purpose. Instead, all they are basically going to be doing is sitting at the border and, well, looking at it. I assume that if someone happens to try to come across the border at the positions the Guard members are deployed to, they will end up turning them over to the Border Patrol rather than simply letting them pass by without doing anything. One would hope that they’d at least be doing that much, actually, because otherwise their presence on the border would be even more utterly pointless. What they won’t be doing, apparently, is engaging in any kind of patrols, either on their own or with the Border Patrol, or otherwise engaging in any activities that are actually designed to, well, secure the border, which is what one would have assumed was the actual point of Perry’s decision to call them up to begin with.

What this confirms, of course, is what the real purpose of Perry’s order, and indeed his entire spectacle of involvement in the ongoing border crisis, is actually all about. It’s not about actually solving the problems connected with the massive influx of Central American migrants this year. If it were, then Perry would be working with the members of his state’s Congressional delegation, such as Senator John Cornyn and Congressman Henry Cuellar, who have proposed a bill to deal with the crisis, toward a solution. Instead of attacking the President, he would be working with the Federal Government to ensure that the people who have arrived in his state are treated humanely and processed properly according to applicable law. In other words, he’d be acting like a Governor, which is what he’s supposed to be doing of course.Instead, from the beginning Perry has used this crisis as a political cudgel against the Administration and a means to advance his own political fortunes. He’s grandstanding with photo ops with Sean Hannity at the border. And, he’s generally just pontificating. In other words, he’s using this issue to try to reboot a political career that was seriously damaged thanks to a disastrous 2012 campaign for President rather than actually doing anything constructive. If he does end up running in 2016, the question will be whether Republican voters are foolish enough to fall for such transparent pandering.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. legion says:

    Doug, every single solitary thing Rick Perry does is utterly pointless. Haven’t you noticed? Or did you actually buy into the Onion-level self-parody that his new fake hipster glasses made him smarter?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 0

  2. gVOR08 says:

    …the question will be whether Republican voters are foolish enough to fall for such transparent pandering.

    Based on history, no, I don’t think that’s a question.

    I did love the statement that the Guardmen would

    …detain people only if they interfere with their mission…

    How does one interfere with a mission to do nothing? And do they actually have legal authority to detain anyone, for anything, anyway?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  3. C. Clavin says:

    Just another example of fiscally conservative Republicans wasting taxpayer money on their ideological wet-dreams.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  4. beth says:

    I know a few people who are in the National Guard and I don’t think they’d take kindly to being sent somewhere just to pose for photo ops to help someone’s political career. They pride themselves on getting stuff done whenever they’re deployed. I suspect they’ll find a way to make themselves useful.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  5. stonetools says:

    Ah well, Perry will supply us with many comic moments as his presidential campaign unfolds. Did you see the pictures of him posing with a big gun , as if he was going to personally mow down any Central American kid that crossed the border?

    I tell you, the Onion is going to need a bigger paper.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  6. JohnMcC says:

    “I assume that if someone tries to come across the border at positions the Guard is deployed to, they will end up turning them over to the Border Patrol rather than simply letting them pass…”

    Well, we know what happens when we “assume”, yes?

    “But one thing they can’t do is catch people crossing the border illegally.

    “Despite calls by Gov Rick Perry and others for Guard troops with arrest powers to beef up the border, ‘Operation Strong Safety’…does not grant the troops that authority.”
    Houston Chronicle 22 July (article updated today).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  7. LaMont says:

    Ok, ok, ok. I get it now. You see Rick Perry just want to show everyone how big government don’t work… Perry 2016!!!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  8. Gustopher says:

    Does being called up for political stunts make people more or less willing to join the National Guard?

    Aside from screwing with the lives of the fine folks in the Guard, and their families, does this nonsense actually hurt national security?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  9. J-Dub says:

    @gVOR08:

    …detain people only if they interfere with their mission…

    Don’t make me do anything or I WILL be forced to arrest you! Except I have no authority to arrest you, so I WILL turn you over to someone else who is already here to do this sort of thing…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  10. danimal says:

    We are sending the Texas National Guard to accomplish three critical missions. One–to intimidate potential border-crossers and deter them from entering the country. Two–to assist the Border Patrol in protecting our border. And three…umm…well…uuuhhh, I forgot the third.

    Oops.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  11. J-Dub says:

    Maybe once they get to the border they will turn around and keep Texans from fleeing their state.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  12. legion says:

    @gVOR08:

    How does one interfere with a mission to do nothing? And do they actually have legal authority to detain anyone, for anything, anyway?

    It sounds like the only person interfering the TXNG’s mission is Perry himself. I think he’s the one who needs to be arrested…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  13. DrDaveT says:

    @beth:

    I suspect they’ll find a way to make themselves useful.

    Along the lines of how General Thomas Williams’s troops allegedly made themselves useful at the Battle of Baton Rouge?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  14. steve says:

    The local businessmen don’t even want the Guard there.

    http://www.epbusinessjournal.com/2014/07/rstec-opposes-national-guard-troop-deployment-on-south-texas-border/

    Steve

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  15. “Most have been from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, where rampant gang violence and intense poverty have driven tens of thousands of people outside their borders.”

    Better to put the kids on a bus and take them to the south or west sides of Chicago, where they can feel totally at home.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 7

  16. anjin-san says:

    Exactly how many taxpayer dollars is “fiscal conservative” Perry throwing away on what is basically a campaign stunt?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  17. michael reynolds says:

    It’s called comic relief, people. After the Ukraine shoot-down and fields of dead bodies, and children killed in Gaza by Israeli artillery, it’s time for the clown.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  18. OzarkHillbilly says:

    I assume that if someone happens to try to come across the border at the positions the Guard members are deployed to, they will end up turning them over to the Border Patrol rather than simply letting them pass by without doing anything.

    Doug, way late but need to point out that all they are allowed to do is observe and call the Border Patrol if they see something fishy. They have no, read ZERO, ZIP, NADA, police powers and as such CAN NOT detain ANYONE.

    So yes, really all they can do is stand around and look at porn each other their zits their crotches their boogers the border.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  19. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @JohnMcC: You beat me to it, did a quik scan and missed yours.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  20. Ken says:

    the question will be whether Republican voters are foolish enough to fall for such transparent pandering.”

    the question will be will the sun come up in the east yet again tomorrow?

    the question will be does dog sh*t always taste bad when I stick it in my mouth?

    the question will be will the Trix Rabbit be wind up without the cereal this time, too?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  21. JohnMcC says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Having teen-aged children (now grown) taught me how to be ignored. (wink–wink–)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  22. Tillman says:

    At least the photos were of decent quality.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  23. bill says:

    as pointless as it is, it’s more than obama has done in the last year aside from inviting them. where is he anyway, another fundraiser somewhere?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  24. Tyrell says:

    @danimal: If Gov. Perry wants to accomplish something, he needs to go front and center, lead the Guard down to Mexico, and bring back the US Marine that has been locked up in a Mexican rathole jail, all because he made a wrong turn. Meanwhile, Obama fund raises, and swaps 5 terrorists for 1 deserter. What is going on here?
    “Leave no US soldier behind”
    See westernjournalism.com. “Bikers converge on Mexico to save US Marine”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

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