Head of CBP: 'Confident We Have the Resources' to Deal With Influx

By Susan Jones | July 7, 2014 | 6:55 AM EDT

A U.S. Border Patrol boat secures the area as U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Gil Kerlikowske, left, addresses a news conference next to the Rio Grande River in Mission, Texas on Wednesday July 2, 2014.  (AP Photo/The Monitor, Gabe Hernandez)

(CNSNews.com) - Gil Kerlikowske, the Customs and Border Protection commissioner, says he's "confident that we have the resources" to secure the southern border, which 52,000 children had crossed illegally as of mid-June.

"As you know, (Homeland Security) Secretary (Jeh) Johnson has just deployed an additional 150 agents to the Rio Grande Valley, and that is on top of the 115 that are already moving in, so I'm confident that we have the resources," Kerlikowske told ABC News in an interview that aired on Sunday.

"These are family members, these are not gang members, they are not dangerous individuals," he added.

But Texas Gov. Rick Perry said Kerlikowske is "absolutely and totally wrong."

"For one thing, there is a Border Patrol agent -- I should say 15 Border Patrol agents per mile from El Paso to California. In Texas, that number is seven Border Patrol agents totally per mile. So the idea that there's equity and there's enough Border Patrol agents is totally and absolutely incorrect."

Perry, speaking on ABC's "This Week," blamed the Obama administration's "catch-and-release" immigration policies for sending the wrong message to Central Americans.

Last week, Perry told Congress that allowing the tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors to remain in the United States is not the humane thing to do:

"Nobody's doing any of these children the slightest favor by delaying a rapid return to their countries of origin, which in many cases is not Mexico," Perry told a field hearing of the House Homeland Security Committee:

"Allowing them to remain here will only encourage the next group of individuals to undertake this very, very dangerous and life-threatening journey. And those who come must be sent back to demonstrate in no uncertain terms that risking your lives on the top of those trains and the ways that they are coming here -- it's not worth that.

"Even those who have survived this very treacherous journey are still at risk. We've already had one confirmed case of H1N1," he noted. "And we have been informed by our federal partners of two additional cases of type A influenza that are likely to be H1N1 in addition to reports of other illnesses and diseases that you all have read about."

Perry urged the Obama administration to increase the number of Texas National Guard units that are involved in border security operations.

He said any illegal immigrants released into the U.S. population must be medically screened.

And he said Texas must be reimbursed "for the $500-million-plus that we've spent securing the border over the past decade. We have been fulfilling a federal responsibility and the hardworking people of the State of Texas shouldn't have to shoulder that cost by themselves.

"And finally, my message to President Obama is to secure this border, Mr. President, finally address this issue and secure this border; invest sufficient resources to put an adequate number of Border Patrol agents on the ground permanently, utilize existing technology including drones and other assets that we know -- we know how to do this."