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Local officials criticize Perry border plan

Sept. 20, 2009 at 1:24 AM

AUSTIN, Texas, Sept. 20 (UPI) -- Local officials in the Rio Grande Valley are not happy with Gov. Rick Perry's plan to deploy Texas Rangers along the Mexican border.

Perry announced Sept. 10 he would send teams of Rangers to patrol remote areas. He said he had to act because the federal government had failed to secure the border.

The Texas Border Coalition -- mayors and county executives along the Rio Grande -- has sent Perry a letter opposing the plan, The Wall Street Journal reports.

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

Most areas along the border are heavily Democratic, so some of the opposition to the Republican governor may be political. Pat Ahumada, the Democratic mayor of Brownsville, called deploying Texas Rangers "an extremist and alarmist reaction to incidents that are happening in Mexico."

Laredo Mayor Raul Salinas, also a Democrat, complained local officials were not consulted. Eliot Shapleigh, a state representative from El Paso, suggested Perry was motivated by a primary challenge from U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson.

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