Photo: Barack Obama (Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama said he does not need to visit the southern border to resolve the crisis arising from the massive arrival of unaccompanied Central American children and he urged Congress to grant his budget request for $3.7 billion in supplemental funds to address the influx.
Members of Congress “have said they want to see a solution. The supplemental offers them the capacity to vote immediately to get it done,” Obama told reporters in Dallas after meeting with Texas Gov. Rick Perry and other state officials.
The president’s visit to Texas has sparked criticism from Republicans and activists for his decision not to visit the Rio Grande Valley along the border, where the majority of the undocumented children cross into the United States.
“(T)here’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. And those who say I should visit the border, when you ask them what should we be doing, they’re giving us suggestions that are embodied in legislation that I’ve already sent to Congress,” he added.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has raised objections to Obama’s funding request because it does not include the deployment of the National Guard along the border, something that Perry - another Republican - also asked the president to do on Thursday.
“And if the Texas (congressional) delegation said, for us to pass the supplemental we want to include a commitment that you’re going to send some National Guard early, we’d be happy to consider it,” Obama said.
Obama’s budget request includes $300 million to help El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras confront the root causes of the problem, including poverty and violence, which have motivated more than 57,000 minors to cross the border into the United States alone over the past 10 months.
Obama said the real long-term solution to the problem involves approving immigration reform, given that it would open a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented foreigners already living in the United States.