- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Monitor of McAllen. July 21, 2014.

Is Gov. Perry playing politics or being earnest about public safety?

We are certain Gov. Rick Perry did not take lightly the enormous responsibility as the state’s commander-in-chief when deciding to deploy the Texas National Guard to the border region to support the Texas Department of Public Safety, which itself is helping an overwhelmed U.S. Border Patrol secure our international border with Mexico.

So we commend him on taking decisive action. But we withhold judgment on the wisdom of his action until we have more information.

What is readily apparent is that this move provides enormous political capital to an elected official who will soon be out of office and who is considering a second run for the White House. It also becomes a rallying point for Republicans before a national midterm election against the policies of President Barack Obama and Democrats who support him.

And while we are not naïve enough to presume that politics should not be considered in such a deployment, we are concerned that politics might be the primary consideration. Since any type of military maneuver involves an element of risk to a soldier’s safety, such a consideration would be the height of cynicism in extremely cynical times.

The deployment of combat-trained troops, in whatever role they ultimately play, adds a layer of complexity to an already complex situation.

If anything, Perry’s announcement of the deployment demonstrated how little we know about the extent of the current situation.

We have been told, for example, that up to 57,000 unaccompanied minors have crossed the border and been detained. Perry announced that this represents merely 20 percent of the total number of immigrants who have been caught this year.

That is an extraordinary figure and would seem to back his rationale for providing help.

But we have seen few statistics beyond those that seem to justify one policymaker’s actions versus another.

We know that the Border Patrol has a virtual blackout on information. In that vacuum, we call on Gov. Perry to provide additional information from the perspective of the DPS. He alluded to the challenge that state troopers are having in their current support role of the federal government; we need to know more specifically the extent of that challenge.

We are distraught that during his announcement to deploy troops, Gov. Perry, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Attorney Gen. Greg Abbott - all of whom have acknowledged the humanitarian crisis brewing in our region - did little to secure funds to help with that crisis.

So we see enormous expenditures being proposed for border security efforts at both the federal and state levels, while relatively little money seems earmarked for humanitarian aid, a responsibility that has fallen to charities and local taxpayers to fund.

So on one hand, proponents of a border buildup are decrying the failure of the federal government to adequately do its job. But the very proof of this failure - the tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors and families from Central America - seem to be a symptom of a crisis in which few people want to address.

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