DALLAS (CBS Houston/AP) — Texas Gov. Rick Perry has asked President Obama to deploy National Guard troops to handle the influx of unaccompanied minors crossing into South Texas.
Perry and Obama met Wednesday in Dallas to discuss solutions for the record flow of immigrants coming from Central America.
“You know, I was like, Mr. President, you can deal with this. You can unilaterally direct the Department of Defense to put those troops on the border,” Perry told Fox News following his meeting with Obama. “The president needs to understand that the single most important thing that he can do is put the National Guard on the border to coordinate with local law enforcement, with state law enforcement, with the border patrol.”
Perry also asked Obama to authorize the use of Predator drones for identifying illegal trafficking and again requested that the president visit the border to see the situation first-hand.
Obama responded that he’s happy to consider ideas such as adding National Guard troops, but said it’s up to Congress to find long-term solutions.
Obama arrived in Texas under pressure from Republicans like Perry, as well as some Democrats, to add a trip to the border to his two-day fundraising swing. The White House steadfastly resisted those calls, insisting there was little the president could learn from a border visit that he didn’t already know.
“I’m not interested in photo ops,” Obama said Wednesday. “I’m interested in solving a problem.”
Perry told CNN Thursday he doesn’t understand why Obama won’t visit the border.
“The American people expect to see their president when there is a disaster. He showed up at Sandy. Why can’t he show up on the border of Texas?” Perry told CNN.
Perry also stated that Americans will think Obama doesn’t care about securing the border if he doesn’t act soon.
“Actions are really important and unless we see this president acting, then the American people are going to think that he does not care about securing the border,” Perry told CNN.
A possible GOP presidential candidate in 2016, Perry has been a scathing critic of Obama’s handling of illegal immigration.
The current problem at the border comes at a time when the White House was seeking to cement an upper hand on the issue of immigration, particularly with Hispanic voters, who are increasingly crucial to electoral success in presidential elections. After House Republicans made clear they had no plans to take up comprehensive legislation this year, Obama vowed to move forward with executive actions that would make needed changes to the nation’s broken immigration system.
But the border crisis has given Republicans fresh fodder to challenge that approach. GOP lawmakers have blamed Obama’s 2012 decision to defer deportations for some young people in the U.S. illegally for fueling rumors in Central America that unaccompanied minors who arrive at the border would be allowed to stay.
Indeed, some of the 57,000 children who have come to the border appear to be under that impression, though many are also fleeing violence in Central America. The White House has said most of the children are unlikely to qualify for humanitarian relief that would allow them to stay.
The money Obama is seeking from Congress would go toward seating more immigration judges, increasing detention facilities, helping care for the children and paying for programs in Central America to keep them from coming to the U.S.
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