By Rebecca Elliott
WASHINGTON, June 19 (Reuters) - Texas Governor Rick Perry expressed concern on Thursday that a recent wave of unaccompanied minors crossing the border from Mexico is diverting resources away from the state's disaster relief preparedness.
More than 47,000 unaccompanied children from Mexico and Central America have crossed the U.S. border illegally since October 2013, almost double the number from the previous year, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
In response, the federal government has arranged facilities to temporarily house many of the children, including military bases in Oklahoma, California, and Texas.
"This unaccompanied alien children issue has the potential to be an absolute catastrophe," Perry said on Thursday at a lunch sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor.
He voiced particular concern over the amount of resources being devoted to housing the minors in Texas, especially as the height of hurricane season approaches.
"Were we to have a major event, I literally do not have places to house our citizens because of this influx from Mexico," he said.
Perry's comments came on the heels of an announcement Wednesday that Texas would be sending additional law enforcement to the U.S.-Mexico border. The border surge, aimed at combating illegal immigration into the state, will cost approximately $1.3 million per week, according to a statement announcing the surge.
"Until the federal government recognizes the danger it's putting our citizens in by its inaction to secure the border, Texas law enforcement must do everything they can to keep our citizens and communities safe," Perry said in the statement.
Perry reiterated his belief Thursday that the federal government is not devoting adequate resources to border security, calling on it to pay for Texas' new border surge operation. He termed securing the border "a clear constitutional responsibility," adding that it should be the federal government's top priority. (Reporting by Rebecca Elliott; Editing by Alistair Bell and James Dalgleish)
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