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Chairman of Border Sheriffs Coalition says National Guard Troops Won't Solve Humanitarian Crisis

Jeff Davis County Sheriff Rick McIvor says deploying National Guard troops won't solve the crisis at the border. (Travis Bubenik/KRTS)

Governor Rick Perry has announced his plan to send 1,000 Texas National Guard troops to the Texas-Mexico border in response to the recent influx of Central American migrants.

Perry says the troops are needed to protect against threats from Mexican cartels and other criminals, but the Chairman of the Texas Border Sheriffs Coalition says it's an unnecessary move.

Jeff Davis County Sheriff Rick McIvor spoke with us about Perry's plan.

"I don't think it's necessary to infiltrate the area with a lot of troops," McIvor says. "I think you put a lot of fear into the people that live in the area."

McIvor says the $12 million-a-month price tag for the deployment isn't a wise use of money for dealing with a humanitarian crisis. That's a sentiment echoed by border county officials who have already questioned the effectiveness of a Department of Public Safety (DPS) surge launched also by Perry last month.

Since then, tensions have risen between the DPS and border sheriffs, with local law enforcement saying they want a seat at the planning table for border surges, and a say in how the money is spent.

"It's a negative impact and negative direction they're taking by not talking to the individual who represents the people," McIvor says.

On Monday, Perry dismissed claims that the immigration surge has not impacted crime along the border.

Officials in McAllen recently testified that they haven't seen a rise in crime alongside the influx of unaccompanied minors and families. When questioned about those accounts, Perry said they "may not fulfill the full vision of what's going on on the border."

McIvor says the presence of National Guard troops won't do anything to stop drugs from flowing across the border, but also that there hasn't been a noticeable rise in crime.

"There hasn't been a change of increase in violence," he says. "It's been pretty standard across the border."

McIvor notes that most of the migrants being arrested are walking right into the arms of law enforcement.

"They're going in directly asking for help," McIvor says, "they're not trying to break into places and doing all kind of crazy things like you hear."

Travis Bubenik is All Things Considered Host and Big Bend Reporter at Marfa Public Radio.