Washington (CNN) - Texas Gov. Rick Perry said he won’t encourage his state’s congressional delegation to approve President Obama’s request for $3.7 billion in emergency funds to mitigate the border crisis.
“The President doesn't have to have this big amount of money,” Perry told Fox News Channel’s Brit Hume. “He could pick up the phone today, call the (Defense Department) and direct them to have the 1,000 National Guard troops on the border.”
After meeting with Perry last week in Texas, Obama said he had asked the Texas governor to use his influence to urge the Texas congressional delegation to support the emergency funding request.
Obama requested the money to deal with a growing number of undocumented children and youths arriving in the U.S. illegally and overwhelming federal facilities. While many have been released to family pending deportation hearings, others have been detained by authorities amid a growing backlog of pending cases.
Obama administration officials blame the influx on dire conditions in countries such as Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. Critics, however, say the administration invited the problem by halting deportations of some young immigrants who arrived illegally in past years.
Perry said the physical presence of the National Guard would send a clear, visual message to potential immigrants that U.S. borders are not wide open.
“They need to be right on the river,” he said. “They need to be there as a show of force, because that's the message that gets sent back very quickly to Central America.”
Perry also said he’d like to see changes to a 2008 law signed by then-President George W. Bush that requires deportation hearings before sending back children from countries that do not border the United States.
“That law needs to be changed,” Perry said. “I think members of Congress understand it needs to be changed, both Democrats and Republicans.”
– CNN’s Tom Cohen, Ed Payne and Dana Ford contributed to this report