AUSTIN, Texas — Gov. Rick Perry has a message for the tens of thousands of Central American migrants attempting to cross the border into his state, “You’re messing with the wrong Texan.” Unfortunately for Perry, he’s militarizing the wrong border.
“Someone needs to give the governor a remedial geography lesson,” said state Sen. Wendy Davis, who is looking to become Texas’ next governor. “New Mexico, the state, and Mexico, the country, are two very different things.”
Perry announced last week that he would send 1,000 National Guard troops to the border, boldly moving to stem the flood of migrants entering the U.S. illegally, where Congress has so far refused to take decisive action—or at least in the same general vicinity.
By all accounts, Perry intended to dispatch the troops along the state’s porous 1,200-mile border with Mexico. However, his signed order directs the National Guard to patrol areas adjoining New Mexico. At press time, the apparent error has yet to be corrected.
Gov. Perry’s office officially declined comment on this matter. Someone close to the governor, speaking on the condition of anonymity, indicated that Perry is reluctant to admit another mistake, for fear that doing so would harm his presidential ambitions.
Gaffes have become familiar territory for the governor, who is known just as much for his slapstick as for his cowboy demeanor.
“I will not stand idly by while our citizens are under assault, and little children from Central America are detained in squalor,” said Perry at the Texas Capitol as he announced the deployment. “You’ve got migrants fleeing the terrible conditions in the Northern Triangle of Guatemala, El Salvador, and…ahh…ahhh. I can’t, the third one. Sorry,” Perry added with a shrug. “Oops.”
Wherever the troops find themselves, they are to carry out ground and air operations at an estimated cost of $12 million a month, which the governor intends the federal government to pay. Because Perry did an end run around Washington in calling the troops to action, they may also have the power to make arrests.
Even if Perry sent the troops to the right place along the Texas-old Mexico border, critics note that many of the migrants are already willingly turning themselves in, rendering the buildup pointless.
Said Susana Martínez, governor of New Mexico, “I’m just thankful Perry didn’t confuse my office here Santa Fe for his in Austin. New Mexico can deal with troops at our border, but I’m not sure we could survive with Perry mismanaging our state.”