Politics & Government

Perry's deployment of Rangers questioned by Texas border leaders

AUSTIN -- City and county leaders along the Texas-Mexico border, responding to Gov. Rick Perry's plans for a border-area deployment of Texas Rangers, on Wednesday challenged Perry's suggestions that the region is being overwhelmed by narco-crime from Mexico and called for greater cooperation between the governor's office and local officials.

"Your remarks, if accurately reported, create a public impression of lawless hordes overrunning the border region and do not reflect our collective experience," Eagle Pass Mayor Chad Foster, chairman of the Texas Border Coalition, said in a letter to Perry.

"While each of our communities has their own unique issues, being overwhelmed by criminal elements from Mexico is not one of them," Foster said.

Perry announced last week that he plans to deploy specialized teams of Texas Rangers to work with the Texas National Guard in a beefed-up border enforcement effort. Perry said the teams will be dispatched to "high-traffic, high-crime areas along the border" to help stem crime spilling over from Mexico.

But Foster said crime on the border is "on the way down." Apprehensions of illegal border crossers, he said, have dropped by 40 percent.

El Paso, which Foster described as the third-safest city in the United States, has seen a 60 percent drop in arrests of illegal border crossers, the mayor wrote.

Katherine Cesinger, a spokeswoman for the governor, said Perry was pleased with the reductions in crime in certain areas of the border but believes that the "Ranger Recon" teams are needed to focus on unprotected desolate areas "where criminals are exploiting cracks in the seam."

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