The National Guard troops Texas Gov. Rick Perry ordered to the U.S. Mexico border last month are using food and gas aid from a local food bank because they haven't been paid in weeks, according to the KGBT. Members of the National Guard reach out for assistance for 50 troops who were deployed around August 11 visited the food banks, and members of the group told KGBT that they won't be paid until September 5.
(Update 3:30pm: In a statement to The Wire, Gov. Perry's press office challenged the account given by the RGV food bank, and said the Texas National Guard only has a record of two troops receiving aid.)
Last month, Perry announced he was sending 1,000 National Guard troops to defend the border in the wake of inaction from the federal government. The move was met with skepticism, especially from border town sheriffs who wanted the resources to go towards police officers, since National Guard troops aren't allowed to arrest or detain undocumented immigrants. Others balked at the price — it will cost an estimated $12 million a month to sustain the troops, and as of last month the state wasn't sure how it would pay that price.
Now it seems that the troops arrived before the funds did. Democratic state Rep. Rene Olivera, who earlier condemned the "militarization" of the border, said "it's embarrassing that our troops have to stand in a food pantry line. This is the fault of the state."
Here's the full statement from Perry's office:
First, the suggestion that Guardsmen aren’t getting paid is false. They are getting paid on a regular schedule with their first pay day on Sept. 5, then every two weeks after that. Second, based on information provided by the Texas National Guard, two soldiers sought and received assistance through the Family Assistance Coordinator. Family Assistance Coordinators routinely help Guardsmen all across the state with needs they may have, regardless of deployment or duty status. Also, based on information provided by the Guard, they currently have no indication that any Guardsmen received any assistance from the Rio Grande Valley Food Bank.
Governor Perry is confident the Guard stands ready to assist to any Soldier who may need it, regardless of deployment or duty status so they can meet the needs of their family, or the mission they are performing.