Rick Perry orders up to 1K National Guard troops to Texas border

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Monday, July 21, 2014
Gov. Rick Perry speaks during a news conference in the Governor's press room, Monday, July 21, 2014, in Austin, Texas.
Gov. Rick Perry speaks during a news conference in the Governor's press room, Monday, July 21, 2014, in Austin, Texas.
Eric Gay-AP

AUSTIN, Texas (KABC) -- Texas Gov. Rick Perry on Monday ordered up to 1,000 National Guard troops to the state's border over the next month in what he says will provide a boost to the ongoing battle between law enforcement and criminals exploiting a surge of children pouring into the U.S. illegally.

Perry's plan, called Operation Strong Safety, is aimed adding the troops to strengthen the existing law enforcement presence at the border, Perry said.

According to Perry, more than 200,000 criminals in the country illegally have been booked into Texas jails since 2008 on drug-related offenses, homicides and sexual assaults.

"I will not stand idly by while our citizens are under assault and little children from Central America are detained in squalor," the governor said.

Perry has been a vocal opponent to the White House's handling of the border crisis. He said the state has a responsibility to act after "lip service and empty promises" from Washington.

Texas National Guard Major General John Nichols admits the National Guard troops are mostly a "visual deterrent" and can only "detain" those crossing illegally until local law enforcement arrives to make an official arrest. The Major General says his men and women will "refer and deter."

"We think they'll come to us and say, 'Please take us to a Border Patrol station,'" Nichols said.

The deployment will cost Texas $12 million a month. The state plans to seek a refund from the federal government for those costs, Perry said.

During a meeting with President Barack Obama two weeks ago, Perry said he reiterated a request to activate 1,000 Title 32 National Guard Troops until 3,000 new Border Patrol personnel are deployed. Perry says the tab for those troops would have been picked up by the government.

Since October, more than 57,000 unaccompanied children and teenagers have entered the U.S. illegally - more than double compared to the same period a year earlier. Most have been from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, where rampant gang violence and intense poverty have driven tens of thousands of people outside their borders.

ABC News and the Associated Press contributed to this report.