President Obama says he’s considering whether to deploy National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border, after Texas Gov. Rick Perry made an urgent call fort 1,000 more “boots on the ground” to deal with the growing violence.
The president weighed the option during a meeting with regional reporters Wednesday afternoon.
“We’re going to examine whether and if National Guard deployments would make sense and under what circumstances they would make sense,” Obama said, according to an account by McClatchy Newspapers. “I don’t have a particular tipping point in mind. … I think it’s unacceptable if you’ve got drug gangs crossing our borders and killing U.S. citizens.”
More than 1,000 people have been killed in Mexico in drug-related violence this year, and officials warn the violence is spilling into some U.S. cities, such as Atlanta, Phoenix and Birmingham, Ala.
Lawmakers have held a series of hearings on the violence on Capitol Hill in recent days, with one House panel holding a hearing Thursday on what the Homeland Security Department can do to secure the Southwest border and prevent Mexican drug cartel violence from spreading.
The top Republican on the House of Representatives’ appropriations committee criticized the Defense Department on Tuesday for not making the situation in Mexico as big a priority as Afghanistan.
Rep. Jerry Lewis, a Republican, said the situation in Mexico is far more important than Afghanistan at this point. “We need to raise this to a higher level,” Lewis told The Associated Press.
Perry said late last month that he was asking the Department of Homeland Security for extra resources and troops.
“As along as they are boots on the ground that are properly trained to deal with the border region, I don’t care whether they are military troops, or National Guard troops or whether they are customs agents,” he said.
Obama suggested to regional reporters Wednesday that he’s taking a cautious approach.
“We’ve got a very big border with Mexico,” he said. “I’m not interested in militarizing the border.”