National Guard's new power to detain worries valley leaders

National Guard troops may begin arriving in the valley by the first week of August

National Guard troops may begin arriving in the valley by the first week of August.

The National Guard plans to work side by side with the Texas Department of Public Safety to prevent immigrants from crossing the border in western portions of the Rio Grande Valley, but unlike border operations of the past, guard members will have added authority.

Air National Guard major general John Nichols says the National Guard will be an added resource to the DPS surge that began in June.

By us coming down there we can free officers from those posts and allow them to be more mobile and more responsive, Nichols said.

But unlike previous National Guard deployments to the border like in 2006, Nichols says National Guard Members will have the authority to detain.

Under state active duty we could detain. We prefer not to, we will let commissioned law enforcement officers do that, Nichols said. We are going to deter be bring present and fully visible and refer anybody who comes our way to law enforcement. DPS will be close by.

Whatever role the troops play, Texas Senator Chuy Hinojosa (D) calls it a political ploy.

"It's a waste of time and money. It's a decision based on politics, Hinojosa said. The immigration issue is so politicized you cannot have a rational discussion on the merits on public policy.

Hinojosa says there are more economic and practical ways to combat the immigration crisis.

What we need is more resources to hire more DPS officers hire more deputy sheriffs and hire more police officers.

But Nichols disagrees.

We still think the National Guard is the most cost effective solution to the national defense of America, Nichols said.

Democratic Texas Representative Oscar Longoria says more eyes are good but bringing in the guard may send the wrong message.

"We have to look at the cost how we are going to pay for all of this and see what the scope of the National Guard will be. I just hope it won't bring s negative connotation to the area where people think it's a paramilitary, high crime, high traffic area where it's dangerous to come, Longoria said.

Governor Perry has promised to send the federal government the projected bill of $12 million a month to Washington, but either way, we the people are footing the bill.

While the governor has not set a timeline, he has asked the guard to prepare for up to a yearlong deployment.