By Todd J. Gillman
Texas Republicans are demanding assurances from the White House that 1,200 National Guard troops stationed along the Mexican border earlier this year won't be withdrawn after six months.
The Homeland Security Department says such a pullout isn't even being considered. The proposal apparently came from a low-ranking border patrol official and has not been reviewed, let alone signed off on.
Earlier this week, Rep. Ted Poe, R-Tyler, said Texas officials had been shown a "proposed plan" to remove troops starting in February. "The last thing we need to do right now is pull any resources from the border," he said. "In fact, we need to be doing the exact opposite."
Homeland Security spokesman Matt Chandler today called that information "incorrect. The National Guard deployment continues as planned," he said.
Only 286 of the extra troops have been stationed along the Texas portion of the U.S.-Mexico border. Gov. Rick Perry has made numerous requests for more; Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has rebuffed him, saying a few months ago that Texas is welcome to deploy all the guardsmen it likes -- at state expense.
On Friday, Rep. Kay Granger of Fort Worth released a letter to President Barack Obama signed by 18 of 20 Texas Republicans in the U.S. House, urging him to "reverse your decisions" regarding a pullout -- though, again, DHS says no such decision has been made.
"These forces are vital to protecting our border, which is why we favor increasing the number of troops on the border, not eliminating them," the lawmakers wrote. "This plan fell miserably short in the number of troops, the duration of their deployment and the budget necessary to achieve success."
Granger rounded up the signatures with Rep. Lamar Smith of San Antonio , who will soon chair the Judiciary Committee. Reps. Kenny Marchant of Coppell and Ron Paul of Lake Jackson were the two who didn't sign it.