McALLEN, Texas — Democratic candidate Wendy Davis said Thursday that as governor she would pull Texas National Guard troops from the border if local officials determined they weren't necessary.
The remarks followed Gov. Rick Perry's announcement last month that as many as 1,000 National Guard troops would be deployed to the Texas-Mexico border to bolster security.
"The first thing I would do is call in the local elected officials and the law enforcement and Border Patrol to advise us what they believe the best approach is," Davis, a state senator from Fort Worth, said Thursday in the border city of McAllen. "I expect that their advice will be that that's not the right approach and if that's their advice I will follow it."
The deployment Perry announced is estimated to cost $12 million per month on top of the $1.3 million per week the state has been paying for a surge of state troopers at the border. The troops will be armed, but for the most part are expected to take up observational posts and advise state troopers or Border Patrol of illegal activity. Their deployment is expected to begin in coming weeks, but does not have an end date.
Local elected officials reacted with dismay to Perry's announcement. They're concerned about troops who are not trained in law enforcement and the negative impact a troop deployment could have on economic development as it perpetuates an image of their communities as unsafe.
Davis said Perry's decision was "politically motivated." Perry has said he was forced to act by the federal government's inability to secure the border.
State lawmakers are sensitive to the cost of the deployment and will be watching for signs of an impact, Davis said.
"If there is no impact I would expect that the Legislature will decide that this is not a good use of precious scarce resources that ought to be going to our schools," she said.
Davis made the remarks at an event hosted by The Monitor newspaper and the McAllen Chamber of Commerce. Her Republican opponent, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, was their guest in May.