WASHINGTON -- Texas Gov. Rick Perry accused the Obama administration last week of skirting its immigration enforcement duties to the point of encouraging undocumented minors to illegally cross the border to the United States.
"This is precisely what happens when the federal government refuses to recognize its responsibility for our nation's immigration and border security ... Inaction encourages other minors to place themselves in extremely dangerous situations," Perry wrote Friday in a letter addressed to President Barack Obama, first
reported by Fox News on Monday.
Perry, who ended his bid for the Republican presidential nomination in January, is one of many Republicans who says the Obama administration is failing to police the border and unauthorized immigration in general. It's part of an odd conflict for the administration, which deported a record number of people last year but is still accused by the right of failing to enforce the law.
As a candidate, Perry attacked the president in December 2011 after a report that the federal government would reduce the number of National Guard troops along the southwest border from 1,200 to about 300, while Perry wanted an additional 1,000 National Guard members on the Texas-Mexico border. He claimed during his campaign that the state spent $400 million sending Texas Rangers to the border -- a statement Politifact Texas found to be false.
The National Guard troops were always considered a temporary solution as Customs and Border Protection, part of the Department of Homeland Security, staffed up by about 1,200 agents. The administration began to remove troops from the border in April.
At the same time, the administration has sent a record number of Immigration and Customs Enforcement personnel to the border and upped the number of Border Patrol agents by 11,000 since 2004, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano told the Senate Judiciary Committee on April 25.
Perry's letter requests an investigation by the Department of Homeland Security into the number of undocumented minors entering the United States, and how many are being deported. Perry contends that these unaccompanied minors create a significant cost to taxpayers, in part because of health care.
He wrote that 5,200 unaccompanied minors entered the United States illegally in the first half of the 2012 fiscal year, citing "reports." The figure appears in an Associated Press report on April 28 about the surge of undocumented young people entering the United States alone.
Although DHS picks up the undocumented minors, they are then transferred to Office of Refugee Resettlement in the Department of Health and Human Services. The agency is caring at any given time for about 2,100 unaccompanied minors who are in the country without authorization, according to the AP.
Neither DHS nor HHS gave an official comment on the letter, each referring questions to the other.
Perry writes that unaccompanied minors could be subject to violence while crossing the border.
"Every day of delay risks more lives," he wrote. "Every child allowed to remain encourages hundreds more to attempt the journey."
The full Perry letter, posted to Scribd by Matthew Keys of Reuters: