AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Gov. Rick Perry on Friday wrote to one of his greatest political foes, President Barack Obama, inviting him to Texas to see what he called the "humanitarian crisis" unfolding as unaccompanied children pour across the border with Mexico illegally.
In a stern, two-page letter, the Texas Republican asked the White House to send 1,000 additional National Guard troops with "arrest powers to support the Border Patrol," as well as Lakota helicopters to South Texas, and to authorize the National Guard to use Predator drones to better combat drug and people smuggling.
Perry also wants the Centers for Disease Control to inspect facilities housing immigrants, especially children, who entered the U.S. illegally.
The missive came as the Obama administration announced it will open new detention facilities to house immigrant families. The federal government has been overwhelmed by waves of unaccompanied minors — mostly from Central America — who have been entering the United States in recent months. An estimated 47,000 unaccompanied children so far this budget year have crossed the border from Texas to Arizona in what Obama has himself called an "urgent humanitarian situation."
Perry, who may mount a second White House run in 2016, is fond of bashing the federal government as bloated and inept, and is a frequent critic of Obama's. But he wrote this time that the "problems and solutions" he's detailing are Washington's responsibility.
"There is no doubt that I have disagreed with you and your administration on many polices over the years," Perry wrote. "This crisis, however, transcends any political differences we may have." He added that "the situation along the border is deteriorating" and getting still worse by the day.
Perry urged modifying federal policies he called a "magnet" for people crossing the border illegally, imploring "immediate and decisive action" from the president.
On Wednesday, Perry announced Texas will spend an extra $1.3 million a week ramping up patrols along the border with Mexico but said details won't be made public. Under the "operational surge" approved by the governor, the state could spend an extra $35 million along the border by year's end.
In his letter, Perry said, "Texas can't sit idly by waiting for a resolution while our communities become overwhelmed by illegal immigrants and their need for the basic necessities of food, shelter and sanitation."
On Monday, Perry plans to head to the border community of Weslaco to tour a federal facility housing unaccompanied children.
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