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Obama to border critics: 'This is not theater'

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 04:55 p.m. HST, Jul 09, 2014

DALLAS >> President Barack Obama, seeking to keep a humanitarian crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border from becoming a deeper political liability, pushed back Wednesday at critics who have cast his administration's response to the influx of unaccompanied children as slow and ineffective.

To those pressing Obama to visit the border during his two-day trip to Texas, he retorted: "This is not theater. This is a problem."

Among Obama's harshest critics has been Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a 2012 Republican presidential candidate who is mulling another run for the White House. Perry greeted Obama upon his arrival in the state Wednesday evening, then discussed the situation at the border with him privately and during a larger meeting with local officials and faith leaders.

Obama cast his meeting with Perry as "constructive" and argued that he is already seeking to do much of what the governor is calling for, including sending additional resources to the border to make the deportation process more effective.

"Bottom line is that there's nothing the governor indicated he'd like to see that I have a philosophical objection to," Obama said.

Perry, in a statement released after his meeting with Obama, made no mention of having any areas of agreement with the president.

"Five hundred miles south of here in the Rio Grande Valley, there is a humanitarian crisis unfolding that has been created by bad public policy, in particular the failure to secure the border," he said.

While much of the criticism of Obama has come from Republicans, even some members of Obama's own party were starting to make the case that Obama would be well-advised to visit the border and see the situation for himself.

"Going out there and talking to people who live this day in and day out -- that's the perspective that's missing," said Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz.

For Obama, the border crisis has added another layer of complications to the already fraught debate in Washington over the nation's broken immigration laws.

With no indication that congressional Republicans plan to take up comprehensive legislation, Obama has vowed to make needed changes through his executive powers. But the GOP argues that the action he took on his own in 2012 to allow some young people in the U.S. illegally to stay in the country is to blame for the current crisis, a contention the White House disputes.

The young people arriving at the border are in some cases fleeing violence in their home countries. But their arrival also appears to stem from rumors that they would be allowed to stay if they reached the U.S.

Obama, who is primarily in Texas to raise money for Democrats, said he was getting frequent updates about the situation from his staff and appeared to see little additional benefit in viewing the situation himself.

"There's nothing that is taking place down there that I am not intimately aware of," Obama said, noting that Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson was readying for his sixth trip to the border in recent weeks.

Perry, who has pressed Obama to go, has visited the Rio Grande Valley twice since the surge in unaccompanied child immigrants gained national attention. On June 23, he visited a Border Patrol facility and spoke of an "untenable situation." On July 3, Perry testified at a House Homeland Security Committee field hearing in McAllen, reiterating his call for Obama to come see the situation at the border.

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HD36 wrote:
It's Perry who declined to meet Obama at the airport for a hand shake photo op. The question is, how did all these kids get to the border? Whoever brought them has a duty to take them back.
on July 9,2014 | 05:14PM
pcman wrote:
IRT HD on how kids got to the border. The media and Congressmen have been denied by the administration to question the kids. Conventional wisdom is that the administration has something to hide. Under normal conditions, anyone penetrating the defensive lines of American forces and fortresses is debriefed or interrogated to determine who, what, why, how and when to prevent further invasion. I suspect many parents of the kids have been paid to send their kids to America.
on July 9,2014 | 06:50PM
jayz43 wrote:
Obama: “It would be useful for my GOP friends to rediscover concept of negotiation & compromise.” LOL. This coming from the one who refuses to, because “Elections have consequences, and I won”.
on July 9,2014 | 05:22PM
pcman wrote:
IRT HD on Perry not meeting Obama at airport. Obama was there to campaign and make money off Democrat donors. Why would Perry want to be part of that? Get real. Perry invited Obama to visit border towns that have the illegal alien kids. Obama declined. What's with that? Oh yeah, Obama had to go to Colorado to play pool and smoke pot with his liberal friends.
on July 9,2014 | 07:04PM
calentura wrote:
He needed the time for someone to write a speech on the matter. He'll show up soon with the teleprompter.
on July 9,2014 | 09:00PM
kahuku01 wrote:
The burden of housing, feeding, medical checks and trying to locate families already living in the US, shouldn't be paid by the US taxpayers. It would cheaper to deport these kids back to their country ASAP instead of housing them for an indefinite amount of time. Put more security along the noted area where the most influx of kids are taking place. If the US allows 5,000 kids to enter and stay (for humanitarian reasons as some claim) what about the next wave of 10,000 kids trying to enter the US?
on July 9,2014 | 06:03PM
jayz43 wrote:
I am listening to Mazie Hirono's passionate plea on c-span on why we should help ALL who come to America because “that is our history”...until the feds fly thousands to our shores to settle in our communities. Our generous welfare “benevolence” is why we are already swamped with too many homeless out-of-towners over-burdening our support system. Enough is enough.
on July 9,2014 | 06:36PM
HD36 wrote:
He wants billions to fix the problem when it would be cheaper to send them all back on a plane. He wants to incorporate them into Obamacare.
on July 9,2014 | 07:54PM
blackmurano wrote:
Totally agree with you HD36. But this Liberal President is a typical Democrat, spend, spend and spend. Obama spends millions of our taxpayer money on family vacations and golfing. He created this mess at the border, refuses to visit the border on his "fund raiser" in Texas yesterday, yet he is asking for billions to fix the problem at the border. This sly mongoose of a liberal Democrat, what he is doing is giving these illegal immigrants amnesty before our eyes. I agree IMPEACH OBAMA, NOW!.
on July 10,2014 | 08:04AM
NanakuliBoss wrote:
Them Indians shouldn't have let those white people cross the ocean from Europe. That's where the problems started.
on July 9,2014 | 09:39PM
BigErn wrote:
Well, obama, you pee-oh-ess, if it's not theater, then it's the circus, and you are the lead clown.
on July 9,2014 | 07:26PM
NanakuliBoss wrote:
Bigern must be ha0 le.
on July 9,2014 | 09:40PM
blackmurano wrote:
It's no surprise that this newspaper, a very liberal one, will not print Obama scandel news and the mess he has created at the border. Sarah Palin has called for his IMPEACHMENT. I totally agree with Sarah so does the majority of the U.S. House republicans who control the house. But now we hear that the Republican speaker of the house disagree with Palin to impeach this White house dictator. You got over 52,000 immigrants at the border created by Obama and now he wants the taxpayers to pay for their welfare at a cost over 3 billion dollars. He refused to activate Army units to help secure the border. What a useless leader.
on July 9,2014 | 09:40PM
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