The Brief: An Arresting Situation With the National Guard

Adjutant General John Nichols of the Texas National Guard explains the Guard's role in helping secure the border as Gov. Rick Perry, l, and DPS Director Steve McCraw listen July 21, 2014.
Adjutant General John Nichols of the Texas National Guard explains the Guard's role in helping secure the border as Gov. Rick Perry, l, and DPS Director Steve McCraw listen July 21, 2014.

The Big Conversation

Can those National Guard troops being sent to the border arrest people? The latest word is they can. And the reason why is that Rick Perry sent them, and not the federal government.

The New York Times' Manny Fernandez reported that the Reconstruction-era law that limits activities by the Guard would not apply to "state-duty troops."

"The ones due at the border next month will work side by side not with federal Border Patrol agents but with state police officers of the Department of Public Safety. They will not be able to enforce federal immigration laws but may be able to enforce state law," Fernandez wrote.

The question, though, is not whether Perry can give the Guard troops that authority but whether he would. "It remains unclear if Mr. Perry will grant the troops the authority to make apprehensions. General [JohnNichols suggested this week that Guard troops could do so if the governor requested it but that they had no plans to." Fernandez wrote. "Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson has indicated the limited involvement federal officials have had in Mr. Perry’s plans. 'We don’t know yet exactly what they intend to do,' he said Tuesday. Asked about possible federal coordination, he said, 'I would certainly hope so.'”

The Houston Chronicle's Kevin Diaz reported that U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz rolled out legislation on Thursday extending federal arrest powers to the Guard troops. "The proposal represents a turnaround for the Texas Republican, and is likely to be shot down by Democrats who control the Senate," Diaz wrote. "His office rejected reports earlier this week that he planned to seek arrest authority for guardsmen, whose domestic police powers are restricted under U.S. laws and customs."

 

Meanwhile, angst is rising among House members who worry what will happen if Congress goes on its August recess without agreement on how to handle the migrant children crisis.

U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Corpus Christi, told The Hill, "I don’t think we ought to go home until we’ve dealt with it. The president has done a proposal, and if we don’t act on that, or reject that and don’t come up with a solution of our own, public opinion will swing against us. And we’ve already got such great approval ratings. I was talking to one member who said, ‘Yea, if we don’t do anything, I’m canceling all my town halls.’”

The Tribune's Julián Aguilar quoted U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, as saying, "Failure is not an option: We cannot have a border crisis and leave for August. What sort of signals are we sending to the smugglers? ‘Oh, Congress decided to go home and not deal with this.’ That would be a horrible signal.”

Cuellar is pushing legislation along with U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, that would make it easier to deport arriving migrant children as a way of addressing the crisis.

The Day Ahead

•    Democratic lieutenant governor candidate Leticia Van de Putte speaks at the reopening of the Texas Civil Rights Project in Austin.

Trib Must-Reads

Denton Fracking Ban Could Spur Wider Legal Clash, by Jim Malewitz

Midland-Area Housing Crunch Hurts Foster Care Oversight, by Corrie MacLaggan

Analysis: Shuffling the Senate Decks, a Little Early, by Ross Ramsey

 

Elsewhere

Wendy Davis 100K anonymous small donors have given $3.25 million, San Antonio Express-News

PolitiFact: Rick Perry on border crime, Austin American-Statesman

Perry's startup fund is not all it seems, The Associated Press

Tales of foster care abuse sound 'like prison', The Associated Press

Mighty Jim Hogan and the Art of the Anti-Campaign, Texas Observer

Obama Campaign Vets: Pay Us $5,000 To Learn — And Work On A Campaign, BuzzFeed

The Alamo Drafthouse Will Kick Greg Abbott Out Of Its Theaters If He Talks During A Movie, Texas Monthly

Quote to Note

“When we responded, we didn’t think people might complain. We’re a Christian organization and we operate on Christian principles.”

Don Gibson of Texas Baptist Men on their motivation to help feed and clothe unaccompanied migrant children coming across the border earlier this year. Their acts of compassion, however, have drawn complaints.

Today in TribTalk

A small-business owner's recipe for reform, by Jorge Garcia

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    The Texas Tribune Festival runs from Sept. 19-21 at the University of Texas at Austin. The next round of participants has now been announced, a list headed by Dan Patrick, state Rep. Sarah Davis and Houston ISD Superintendent Terry GrierAct now!