By ALICIA A. CALDWELL
Associated Press Writer
FABENS, Texas- Texas Gov. Rick Perry said the federal government isn't doing enough to protect border residents and called for more funding to increase border law enforcement.
"It's a matter of priorities," Perry said during a campaign stop Wednesday in Fabens, on the West Texas-Mexico border. "If Texas' border is secure, America is safer."
As he looked over the border with a thermal imaging scope, Perry said that adding "real people with real equipment" would help stem the tide of illegal border crossers.
He said a proposal in Congress to build a fence along sections of the border was a "silly idea" that wouldn't stop illegal immigrants or drug traffickers.
Perry's Wednesday night stop was part of a state tour to launch his re-election campaign.
Perry said border security would not be improved by declaring a state of emergency, as the governors of Arizona and New Mexico did last summer.
"Rhetoric won't stop one person from crossing this border," Perry said.
Perry raised concern about the increasing number of so-called "OTM," or other-than-Mexican, illegal immigrants crossing the border.
"Right now they (OTMs) get a free ride further into Texas and a piece of paper," he said, referring to a program that allows illegal crossers not from Mexico to go free on the condition that they appear in immigration court at a later date.
Suzie Brown, a longtime Fabens landowner, told Perry that she and her neighbors routinely face threats from human and drug smugglers. She said it's gotten to the point that she arms herself.
"When I go walking, I carry a pistol," she said.