President Barack Obama made a case for passing his $3.7 billion proposal to tackle the border crisis in one of the most affected border states.
“The challenge is, is congress prepared to act to put the resources in place to get this done?” Obama said. “Another way of putting it, and I said this directly to the governor, are folks more interested in politics or are they more interested in solving the problem? If they’re interested in solving the problem, then this can be solved.”
Obama delivered remarks after he met in Dallas with local elected officials, faith leaders and nonprofit leaders to discuss how to handle the flood of illegal immigrants, many of them unaccompanied minors from, crossing the southern border.
Obama has asked Congress for $3.7 billion to deal with the border problem. Of that, $1.8 billion would go to the Department of Health and Human Services to care for the illegal immigrants who crossed, while another $1.1 billion would go to the Department of Homeland Security for border security. Millions more would go to the Justice Department, Customs and Border Protection, immigration judges and be used to work with other Central American countries to stem the tide.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who has been very critical of the administration’s handling of the border, met with Obama at the airport and shook hands. The two had a 15-minute helicopter ride together, where White House press secretary Josh Earnest said they had one-on-one time to talk about the border.
“There is nothing the governor said he would like to see I have a philosophical objection to,” Obama said. He added, “The things that the governor thinks are important to do would be a lot easier to do if we have this supplemental.”
However, Obama noted that the only disagreement he had with Perry was that the governor wanted him to take action on the border without Congress.
Obama said that in response, he reminded Perry that House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) was planning to sue the president for too much executive action without Congress.
“He suggested, well maybe you just need to go ahead and act and that might convince Republicans that they should go ahead and pass the supplemental,” Obama said. “I had to remind him, I’m getting sued right now by Mr. Boehner apparently for going ahead and acting instead of going through congress. Well, here’s a good test case.”
The president named four things that Perry conveyed to him: The number of border patrol agents; the position of the border patrol to deter entry into the country rather than simply apprehend; the difference in dealing with kids entering from Central America who are not turned back as opposed to kids from Mexico who are turned back; and too many illegal immigrants not showing up for their court dates.
He also said Perry should lean on the Texas delegation to support his proposal.
Perry has previously declined a handshake photo op with Obama, saying in a letter he preferred to have time for a one-on-one discussion about the border crisis.
Obama has been criticized by both Republicans and fellow Democrats for traveling to Texas but declining to go to the Southwest border to personally view the situation. He waved off the criticism.
“There’s nothing that is taking place down there that I am not intimately aware of and briefed on,” Obama said. “This isn’t theater. this is a problem. I’m not interested in photo ops. I’m interested in solving a problem.”
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson recently said 9,700 illegal aliens were taken into custody.
Most of the illegal immigrants reportedly believed they would have instant asylum. Critics of the Obama administration have said this is a result of the “deferred action” policy from 2012 that exempted most young illegal immigrants from being deported if they did not commit criminal offenses. The White House contends the mistaken believe is a result of a misinformation campaign by human traffickers.
“If you look at the pattern of immigration into our country, we’re at an actual significantly lower level in terms of overall immigration flow, illegal immigration flow than we were when I took office,” Obama said. “I think that the challenge we have that has really caused a spike is the significant security challenges in these Central American countries themselves and the fact that you’ve got smugglers who are increasingly recognizing that they can make money by transporting these folks often in very dangerous circumstances to the border and taking advantage of the compassion of the American people.”
Obama added that the deferred action, along with a path to citizenship, would allow the government to reallocate resources for more border security.