Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst issued a harsh rebuke of the Mexican government on Thursday for issuing what he called an “offensive” statement on the border surge that coincided with the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Dewhurst was resonding to a statement by the Mexican government that criticized Gov. Rick Perry’s deployment of the National Guard to the Texas-Mexico border in response to an unprecedented rise in illegal crossings by undocumented Central Americans.
“I find it puzzling and frankly offensive that the government of Mexico chose the 13th anniversary of the most tragic attack on our homeland to call on Texas to throw open our international border to illegal immigration, trafficking in drugs and human lives, and potentially even terrorists who wish to harm America,” Dewhurst said in a statement.
Mexico’s foreign ministry said in a statement — one dated Wednesday — that the deployment was purely political and claimed it would only serve to erode binational relations on issues like immigration and security.
“Mexico asserts that it is irresponsible to manipulate the current state of border security for political purposes. It reiterates that immigration must be addressed from a comprehensive and regional perspective, with a mid-term vision and with shared responsibility, to ensure peace, inclusion and prosperity in the region,” the statement says. “It does not contribute to bringing our societies closer together and it opposes the principles and values by which Mexico and the United States govern their bilateral relationship.”
The Texas National Guard confirmed last month that hundreds of soldiers were already deployed to the Rio Grande Valley, which has been ground zero for the influx of illegal crossings. Perry’s office sent out a statement on Wednesday reiterating that fact.
Perry spokeswoman Lucy Nashed said the governor's office doesn’t know what prompted Mexico’s statement but that Perry remains committed to working with Mexico.
“The governor is focused on ensuring drug cartels and other criminals don’t get a free pass into Texas and the rest of the nation because our borders are unsecured,” she said in an email. “We look forward to continuing to work with Mexico to address illegal immigration and the tragedy of unaccompanied minors.”
In his statement, Dewhurst reiterated that the National Guard deployment is not political and said Texas has a proven, years-long track record of securing the border.
“It is also insulting to imply that protecting Texans is suddenly political when my fellow leaders and I have appropriated over $800 million in Texas tax revenue over the past seven years to purchase planes, helicopters and gunboats to secure the border because the responsible government entities simply refuse to meet their obligation,” he said.
The National Guard deployment has drawn the ire of border Democrats who say it amounts to little more than militarization for show and harms the local economy. They also question the estimated $38 million price tag taxpayers will be left with for the deployment.
But other border leaders like Rio Grande City Mayor Ruben Villarreal says the troops are a necessary component to border security, and add that the federal government is not living up to its mission.
In addition to the thousands of Central American adults who have been apprehended at the southern border, tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors have also been detained by the U.S. Border Patrol. Since October, about 66,000 of these unaccompanied minors have been apprehended, compared to about 35,000 during the same time period last fiscal year.
The Rio Grande Valley sector of the U.S. Border Patrol alone has seen about 48,500 unaccompanied minors this year, compared to about 19,250 last year, according to recently released statistics. Despite that overall increase, the numbers have been dropping since June.