Texas officials are calling on the Obama administration for help, reporting that large numbers of illegal immigrant children are overwhelming the U.S.-Mexico border and effectively turning U.S. military bases into refugee camps.
"We are facing a escalating refugee and national security crisis. Our military bases are turning into refugee camps. I never thought I'd see this in the United States of America," said House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul, R-Texas, according to Fox News on Thursday.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry has also called on President Barack Obama to secure the border, noting that he has deployed state resources to boost border security.
"Unless the US clearly sends the message that we are not going to allow this unimpeded flow of individuals into this country [instead of] 'If you get here you can stay here', it will be a deluge," Perry said at a special hearing of the House homeland security committee, according to The Guardian.
Perry also said that Texas would be launching a $1.3 million-per-week effort to send state agents from the Department of Public Safety to help police the border. He asked for an increase of the Texas National Guard contingent, and suggested that the state needs to be reimbursed for spending half a billion dollars on border security over the past decade.
"We have been fulfilling a federal responsibility," the Texas governor insisted.
The calls for more border security come at a time when the U.S. is at a crossroads on its plan to introduce immigration reform. Last week, House Speaker John Boehner announced that there will not be a vote on such reform this year, which prompted Obama to announce that he will seek to bypass Congress and act on such legislation on his own.
Several law enforcement officials have argued that the real problem in Texas stems from a shortage of officials to process the thousands of children brought from Central American countries such as Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador by Mexican criminal gangs.
"These people don't need to be chased and apprehended; they are looking for border control so they can turn themselves in and be documented," said Ramon Garcia, a Hildago county judge. "If you really want to stop the influx you need to have quicker deportation hearings."
McCaul noted that the failed talks between Democrats and Republicans on immigration reform have not helped the recent surge of undocumented child immigrants from Central America.
"To fix this crisis, the administration must first recognize that its failed immigration and border policies are the source of this problem," said McCaul.
"No one questions the fact that conditions in these countries are terrible but they have not suddenly got worse … it is our relaxed enforcement posture combined with talk of immigration reform [that has encouraged this]."
McCaul and Perry agreed that those caught crossing the border need to be deported, and said that allowing such migrants to stay is not the humanitarian response.
Perry said: "Allowing them to remain here will only encourage the next group of individuals to undertake this very dangerous" trip.