Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) announced plans on Monday to send up to 1,000 National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border, saying they will bolster security efforts to prevent criminals from taking advantage of the current crisis there.
"I will not stand idly by while our citizens are under assault and little children from Central America are detained in squalor," he said at a press conference. "We are too good a country for that to occur."
The number of unaccompanied minors crossing the border illegally has increased rapidly, with more than 57,000 apprehended by border patrol agents since the beginning of October 2013. Most are coming from Central America, and officials say they often turn themselves in to border agents rather than evading them.
Perry and other Republicans have said National Guard troops at the border could help deter children from crossing illegally and aid with efforts to care for them once they're in the government's custody. The Monitor and Bloomberg News first reported Perry's plans on Monday morning.
Texas officials said the effort will cost about $12 million per month. The state plans to bill federal officials for the costs they incur.
"Texans are willing to put boots on the ground, but we expect Washington to foot the bill," said Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who is running for governor as a Republican.
President Barack Obama said after meeting with Perry earlier this month that he was open to deploying National Guard troops, but he has not yet done so.
In response, Republicans have urged the states to go it alone. Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) announced a resolution last week to support the constitutional authority of governors of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California "to take action to secure the international border of the United States within their States." Twenty-six fellow GOP House members signed on to the resolution as original co-sponsors.
Perry and fellow officials focused on criminals crossing the border illegally rather than the unaccompanied minors. He said "the plight of" the children was rightly attracting attention, but said criminals were exploiting the tragedy as border patrol agents are distracted from other duties.
"The price of inaction is too high for Texans to pay," Perry said.
This article has been updated to note the formal announcement of the troops, and to include additional remarks by the governor.