White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Wednesday that President Barack Obama will not be visiting the southern U.S. border anytime soon, even though he will be in Texas next week for a fundraiser.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) has invited Obama a few times to visit the border to assess the immigration crisis that has evolved as tens of thousands of unaccompanied children have crossed into the United States. But Earnest said Obama at this point has not accepted.
“Schedules sometimes change and if they do we’ll let you know, but right now there is no plan to visit the border while he’s in Texas,” Earnest said.
Instead of visiting the border, Obama will fly from Denver to Dallas for a fundraiser on July 9, then will leave Texas from Austin the following day. Earnest declined to call it a fundraiser, instead saying Obama would be “building some support for Democratic candidates for office who are on the ballot in November.”
Earnest was asked whether Obama was comfortable with the idea of holding a fundraiser in Texas while people along the border are coping with what most agree is a humanitarian crisis. But Earnest indicated that enough senior officials are dealing with the problem at this time.
“This president is obviously very attuned to what’s happening at the border,” he said. “The president is getting regular updates on the situation.”
Earnest also said that people concerned about the border problems should support the Senate’s comprehensive immigration bill, which provides more funding for border enforcement measures. Republicans in the House oppose that bill, in large part because they fear it would create a pathway to legal status in the United States and give Obama the option of adopting tougher border measures.
Earnest was also asked about whether the White House is aware of reports that two children who crossed the border have swine flu. Earnest said he was not aware of this, and said reporters should check with the Departments of Health and Human Services or Homeland Security.
The border crisis is one of the many issues that seems to be factoring into Obama’s low poll numbers. A new poll released Wednesday said Obama is the worst U.S. president since World War II, but Earnest said he believes Obama still has the power and influence to lead America.
“There’s no doubt the president has the leadership and stature necessary to call upon the American public to rally around the kinds of ideas that are in the best interests of the country,” he said.
Perry will testify Thursday at a field hearing in Texas before the House Homeland Security Committee.