National Guard

Photo Credit: AP Exchange | Daily Texan Staff

Gov. Rick Perry announced on Monday he will deploy 1,000 state National Guard troops to the Texas-Mexico border.

According to a statement issued by Perry’s office, the troops will work alongside and support Texas Department of Public Safety officers as part of an initiative started in 2013, known as Operation Strong Safety, to combat “criminal activity in the region resulting from the federal government's failure to adequately secure the border.”

Perry said at a press conference Monday that criminals are exploiting the burden on border security caused by the surge of tens of thousands unaccompanied children migrating from Central America.

“The action I am ordering today will tackle this crisis head-on by multiplying our efforts to combat the cartel activity, human traffickers and individual criminals who threaten the safety of people across Texas and America,” Perry said in the statement.

At a meeting with President Barack Obama in early July, Perry asked the president to federally fund the deployment of 1,000 National Guard troops to the border until 3,000 border patrol agents could be sent to address the border crisis.

Denise Gilman, clinical professor at the School of Law and co-director of the school’s Immigration Clinic, said the National Guard cannot legally arrest or detain migrants or otherwise be involved in law enforcement.

“The deployment will not improve the situation at the border,” Gilman said in an email to The Daily Texan. “It is a costly symbolic gesture that will have little practical effect other than to promote an image of the humanitarian situation at the border as a national security crisis, which it is not.”

Max Patterson, history senior and University Democrats president, said he thinks Perry is trying to address a larger audience with this policy.

“I really thought it was not just a misguided action but more of a political move to appeal to his base nationally rather than face the humanitarian crisis of children coming across the border,” Patterson said. “What we need is not more boots on the ground.”

The University’s College Republicans chapter did not comment on the surge of National Guard troops to the border.

While both the president and the governor are authorized to station troops at the border, the state will spend $12 million a month of state money to fund the deployment. At Monday’s press conference, Perry and other state leaders said they expect the federal government to reimburse these costs.

Gilman said these resources should be invested in areas other than border enforcement.

“[They] should be directed to improving detention conditions for children and adults and to improving the immigration court adjudication process so that all migrants can have full due process and an opportunity to present their claims in a reasonable time period,” Gilman said. 

The Texas Military Forces and the University of Texas at Austin have reached an agreement allowing students who serve in the National Guard to maintain their military tuition assistance.

The agreement, approved by the Department of Defense, changes UT’s policy on how tuition fee statements are listed. UT’s funding from the Federal Tuition Assistance program was at risk after a Department of Defense policy change in March required schools to provide itemized tuition fee statements in order to receive funding. Now UT meets this requirement and 24 active military students at UT will continue to receive their federal funding.

Kevin Hegarty, vice president and chief financial officer at UT-Austin, said in a press release that UT-Austin and the Texas Army National Guard worked together to fix the policy discrepancy.

“The University of Texas at Austin is dedicated to helping students who are active military and veterans and is regularly recognized as one of the top schools in the nation for soldier students,” Hagerty said. “Today’s agreement allows these students to continue to receive all the tuition assistance to which they are entitled and will not cost the university any extra money. The Texas Army National Guard has worked closely with UT-Austin to resolve this issue quickly and smoothly.”

In June the Texas National Guard sent letters to active military students at UT-Austin and UT-Arlington warning them that their funding was at risk because of the differences in tuition practices. Failure to adhere to the policy would have affected 46 students, 24 in Austin and 22 in Arlington.