WASHINGTON -- Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst (R) said Friday that even though illegal border crossings are down, the state has no intention of recalling its National Guard troops from the border.
Troops will be there "until the federal government wakes up, steps in, increases the size of the border patrol and secures the border," he said in an interview after a speech at the conservative Values Voter Summit.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) ordered the deployment of up to 1,000 Texas National Guard troops to the border in July after tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants were apprehended crossing the border illegally over the past year. Most of those apprehended as part of the current border crisis are unaccompanied minors traveling without their parents, or are mothers with their children -- prompting heavy criticism from some that Perry was responding to small children with guns.
In July, the director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, Steve McGraw, said the aim was to reduce apprehensions from the peak average of 6,600 per week to less than 2,000 per week. That goal has been met, but the National Guard troops remain.
Asked about the border apprehension numbers, Dewhurst said it wasn't about "picking a number and trying to hit it." He said the goal is to "substantially shut down the border" to illegal immigration, drug smuggling, human trafficking, gang activity and potential national security threats.
"My goal ... is that we secure the whole border and show the federal government, if not shame them, to do the right thing," he told reporters.
That could take years, Dewhurst acknowledged, but he said he "pray(s) that we'll have the courage to stand and continue to do what we're doing until the federal government comes in and performs their constitutional duty."
During his speech, Dewhurst told the crowd that Texas had spent $800 million on its effort to send National Guard troops to the border. The state plans to bill the federal government to get that money back.
He said Obama had "put out the red carpet" for unauthorized immigration, and that it is a serious threat to Texans and Americans. He said those crossing illegally aren't just coming from Mexico and Central American countries, and claimed prayer rugs have been found on the Texas side of the border.
"If we don’t stop the bad guys at the border today, they’re going to be in your neighborhood tomorrow," he told conference attendees in his speech.