President Barack Obama and Texas Gov. Rick Perry will meet Wednesday in Dallas over the border situation regarding the flood of unaccompanied minors coming into the country.
The meeting comes after Perry, a Republican, has been highly critical of Obama for his handling of flow of illegal immigrants.
“I think that despite all of the differences that exist with regards to policy between Gov. Perry and this administration, that there should be a level at which we can agree that it’s important for this humanitarian crisis to be addressed both for the wellbeing of the United States but also for the well being of these human beings who have been apprehended along the Southwest border,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said.
“You can ask Gov. Perry. I certainly won’t speak for him,” Earnest continued. “I know it’s a priority of the president. I assume it’s a priority of Gov. Perry’s, but I assume we’ll find that out in the context of the meeting.”
On Tuesday, Perry turned down an invitation from the president to shake hands with Obama on the tarmac in Austin, the state capital where Obama will be speaking. Rather, in a letter, he called for a substantive meeting to discuss the border rather than a photo op.
“I appreciate the offer to greet you at Austin-Bergstrom Airport, but a quick handshake on the tarmac will not allow for a thoughtful discussion regarding the humanitarian and national security crises enveloping the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas,” Perry wrote in a letter to Obama. “I would instead offer to meet with you at any time during your visit to Texas for a substantive meeting to discuss this critical issue.”
The meeting in Dallas will include government officials and leaders of nonprofits who want to address the border issue. Earnest did not have definitive information whether there would be a one-on-one meeting or if Perry would just be in the group of other officials. He told reporters there would be more finite scheduling later.
“When Gov. Perry sent a letter to the White House yesterday indicating his desire to meet with the president, we thought it made sense here to extend an invitation to Gov. Perry to allow him participate in that meeting with other Texans who are seeking to address this situation in a constructive manner,” Earnest said Tuesday afternoon. “So we’re looking forward to Gov. Perry participating in that meeting. Apparently he has just in the last hour or so agreed to participate.”
This comes after Obama has requested a $3.7 billion appropriation Congress to deal with the border crisis. That would include $1.8 billion for the Department of Health and Human Services to care for the unaccompanied minors who were apprehended at the border and $1.1 billion to the Department of Homeland Security for border security.
Earnest said even more spending on border security is contained in the Senate-passed immigration reform bill that creates a path to citizenship for the some 11 million illegal immigrants in the country.
“The fact of the matter is, the president has made a historic investment in border security, and this president has worked with Republicans in Congress to try to increase our investments and increase the number of resources being dedicated to securing our border,” Earnest said. “Unfortunately it’s Republicans, many of them from Texas that are blocking the House from even considering that common sense bipartisan proposal that would make it to the additional historic investment.”
Obama will also be doing Democratic fundraisers in Dallas and Denver during his three-city swing.