BRIT HUME: Let me ask you, Governor, first of all, about the call you and others have made to send the National Guard down to the border. What exactly would national guardsmen and women do on the border?
GOV. RICK PERRY: We called some four years ago for 1,000 National Guard troops to temporarily go to the border so that they could help push forward that show the force, if you will. And they’re there for a limited period of time until you have an opportunity to train up some 3,000 more border patrol agents to go and replace them.
What that does — and you move the border patrol forward. The president was not even aware that his border patrol was 40, 45 miles away back from the border at these checkpoints. They need to be right on the river. They need to be there as a show of force, because that’s the message that gets sent back very quickly to Central America.
And it’s important to do that, because this flood of children is pulling away the border patrol from their normal duties of keeping bad people, keeping the drug cartels, they’re being distracted, so that I would suggest is a very obvious reason that those National Guard troops should come play an important role.
HUME: But if you strung them out along the border, national guardsmen and women, they are not, under the law, allowed to apprehend any of these children that are crossing, are they?
PERRY: Well, the issue is with being able to send that message, because it’s the visual that I think is the most important. And we know that. We listen to the conversations — or I should say their conversations are being monitored with calls back to the Central America, and the message is, hey, come on up here, everything is great, they’re taking care of us.
And that needs to stop, because if you don’t stop the bleeding, if you don’t staunch the flow of individuals that are coming up here, this is only going to get worse. And at that particular point in time, the size of this crisis is even going to be more monumental.
HUME: I think nearly everybody agrees with that, Governor, but the question I’m trying to get at with you is this — if these children who undergone these harrowing journeys, to escape the most desperate conditions in their home countries, have gotten this far, are they really going to be deterred by the presence of troops along the border who won’t shoot them and can’t arrest them?
PERRY: And I think we’re talking about two different things here. And what we’re talking about is sending the message back now so we can staunch the bleeding. Those that are already here to address them, to humanitarily take care of them, to make sure that they are safe, process them as quickly as you can to reunite them with their families. That’s the most humanitarian thing that we can do.
And the National Guard is absolutely a trained group of men and women that can address that particular function, one that they should. They’re not there in a vacuum. We have massive amounts of Texas law enforcement now, whether it’s our Texas Ranger recon teams there. You saw some of that on FOX this last week with the boats that we have in the river, the Texas Parks and Wildlife. Those are all law enforcement individuals who can in fact arrest those that have illegally come in and appropriately deal with them.
But more importantly, this is allowing the border patrol to get back to what they are supposed to do. Right now, reports of up to 70 percent of them are taking care of these young people who have come in rather than doing their job of securing the border.
HUME: I get that’s the message, Governor. What I don’t quite understand is, how it is with the law being the way it is, the presence of more troops or forces on the border who are not legally able to apprehend these immigrants, these border crossers, is going to change anything without the law being changed first.
PERRY: Here’s the way it will. The presence — and we’ve done this multiple times. We’ve surged large amounts of Texas law enforcement with local law enforcement and coordinating with the border patrol into sectors. We don’t have the ability on a 1,200-mile border to do that. About 20 percent of the individuals coming across are these unaccompanied alien children. You got 80 percent of people out there that these laws don’t fall into, but we’re being pulled away having to deal with these children.
And my point is, you bring boots on the ground to send that message clearly, both visually and otherwise. At that particular point in time, I think this flow from Central America gets staunched by a substantial margin. The president would be wise to put those National Guard troops on the border, and he doesn’t have to have Congress’s approval for that.