Texas Democrat Davis backs call for U.S. to fund National Guard at border

Reuters News
Posted: Aug 05, 2014 4:25 PM

By Jon Herskovitz

AUSTIN Texas (Reuters) - Texas Democratic gubernatorial nominee Wendy Davis supports a call backed by Republicans to have the United States pay to send National Guard troops to the border with Mexico but said on Tuesday the deployment was not a prudent use of resources.

The $12 million a month Texas will spend to deploy as many as 1,000 troops to bolster border security could be better allocated by helping support local sheriffs and relief groups, she told reporters.

Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives passed a $694 million border security bill that allocated money for sending the National Guard to the border. The White House, which has seen its $3.7 billion border funding request rejected by Congress, has threatened a veto.

Current Texas Governor Rick Perry, a possible Republican presidential candidate in the 2016 election, has also asked Washington to pick up the tab and the call from Davis could put pressure on the Obama administration to pay for the deployment.

"At the end of the day, it is the federal government’s responsibility to reimburse our costs as we proceed with caution and with care," Davis said.

Davis has called for a special session of the state legislature to allow local law enforcement and communities to discuss their needs as they address illegal immigration.

"What they did not ask for is $12 million a month be spent on a National Guard who doesn’t even have the authority to detain and arrest people on the border," she said.

Perry has said the deployment was needed to curtail crime in the state and help the U.S. Border Patrol as it tries to manage a flood of children from Central America who are crossing a border that has not properly been secured.

Some cash-strapped border county sheriffs have criticized the deployment, expected to start in the next few weeks, because the soldiers are not authorized to make arrests and will not be apprehending those who cross the border illegally.

State Senator Davis is running against Republican Greg Abbott, currently the state's attorney general, for governor. Abbott, who has a strong lead in the polls, has backed the National Guard deployment.

(Editing by Eric Walsh)