Texas Governor Rick Perry announced plans to send 1,000 military reservists to the state's border with Mexico, to tackle a surge in immigrant children flooding into the United States.
Perry, a Republican seen as a potential candidate for the 2016 presidential race, has taken a hard line against immigrant children seeking to enter the United States from Central America.
He warned of a "monumental tragedy" if they are not sent back as soon as possible.
"I directed adjutant general John Nichols to immediately prepare for deployment of up to 1,000 of his troops," Perry told a press conference in Austin.
Perry said the decision to deploy troops was taken after repeated requests to the federal government to secure the US border.
"Over the years I have repeatedly called on the federal government to lift up their responsibilities of protecting this great nation by securing the border, because there is no national security without border security," Perry said.
Some 57,000 unaccompanied minors from Central America have crossed the southwestern US frontier since October in the search for a better life, many arriving in Texas.
Perry said the surge in immigrants has diverted resources away from law enforcement operating in the region.
"As the men and women of the border patrol are pulled away from their law enforcement duties to give humanitarian aid, drug cartels, human traffickers, individual criminals are exploiting this tragedy for their own opportunities," Perry said.
The tide of immigrant children has become a major political headache for President Barack Obama, who has warned parents in Central America not to send their children to the US.
Obama is to host talks later this week with leaders from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala to discuss how to tackle the problem.
Late Monday, the White House said Obama and Vice President Joe Biden met with the Homeland Security Council. It heard that illegal arrivals of unaccompanied minors from June to July had dropped by half.
"This important decline was noted, and the council committed to continuing aggressive efforts on both sides of the border to deter illegal migration," the White House statement said.
Date created : 2014-07-22