Texas Gov. Rick PerryRick PerryRepublicans are the 21st-century Know-Nothing Party College football move rocks Texas legislature Trump tries to spin failed Texas endorsement: 'This was a win' MORE (R) has ordered the National Guard to search for the bodies of immigrants who have died after crossing illegally into the state.
Perry, who earlier in the summer had ordered as many as 1,000 National Guard troops to the border to fight illegal immigration, has tapped the extra manpower to help local law enforcers locate hundreds of immigrants thought to have died in Brooks County, a desolate part of the state roughly 100 miles north of the southern border.
“For many years, law enforcement and landowners in this area have been overwhelmed by the tragic impacts of human smuggling across our county,” Brooks County Sheriff Rey Rodriguez said in a statement.
“We are grateful for the assistance these search teams will provide in locating the numerous individuals who have lost their lives. Each of these victims – regardless of how or why their lives ended in our community – deserve the dignity of being found, and if possible, returned to their families for proper interment.”
Authorities have discovered the remains of at least 332 people in Brooks County since 2011, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety. The search operations were launched this week and are expected to run through the weekend.
Perry, who's eying another run at the White House in 2016, has been among the most vocal critics of President Obama's handling of illegal border crossings.
In deploying the National Guard to combat illegal immigration in July, he said the extra force is needed to deter the wave of immigrants, safeguard Americans from drug crime and protect taxpayers from the costs of managing the new arrivals.
"I will not stand idly by while our citizens are under assault and little children from Central America are detained in squalor," Perry said at the time. "The price of inaction is too high for Texans to pay."
Texas Democrats have criticized Perry's focus on border security, particularly as a response to the child migrants who had crossed the border in huge waves earlier in the summer. The critics have argued that bolstering enforcement efforts won't remedy a situation where migrants are arriving at the border in hopes of being detained.