CBS News – President Barack Obama said Wednesday Congress has the ability to act immediately to address the wave of unaccompanied minors coming over the border from Mexico into the U.S.
Obama spoke in Dallas after meeting Wednesday with Gov. Rick Perry and other officials about the unaccompanied minors entering the country by the thousands.
Obama said Perry raised four areas of concern and made suggestions. Obama said he was willing to consider dispatching National Guard troops to the border, as Perry suggested, but warned it would only be a temporary solution.
He said that if Perry and Republicans want the problem to be fixed in the longer term, they should press Congress to move quickly to fund his request for $3.7 billion to handle the influx of undocumented children crossing into the United States from Mexico.
“There’s nothing the governor indicated that he’d like to see that I have a philosophical objection to,” Obama said after meeting with Perry and other local leaders.
Obama said Perry raised four areas of concern dealing with the number of border patrol agents, the positioning of those agents, the different policies for immigrants coming from Mexico versus Central America and the functioning of the U.S. immigrant judicial system.
Obama said if Congress passes his emergency funding request, the government will have to resources to take some of the steps Perry recommended. He said the problem is fixable if lawmakers are interested in solving it, but that if the preference is for politics, it won’t be solved.
“Is Congress prepared to act to put the resources to get this done? Are folks more interested in politics or in solving problems?” he said.
Obama has resisted growing calls from both Democrats and Republicans to make his first trip to the border since May 2011.
Asked why he had not visited the border on Wednesday’s trip, the president replied: “This isn’t theater. This is a problem. I’m not interested in photo ops, I’m interested in solving a problem.”
He said Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson had visited several times and “there’s nothing that has taken place down there that I am not intimately aware of.”
Obama said Border Patrol agents were being very effective in apprehending unaccompanied children and other migrants who cross the border illegally, but the problem was how to care for them while their cases are processed.
He appealed to parents not to send their children on the long, perilous journey to the United States — warning that even if the children do make it across the border, they will likely be shipped back.
“Their parents need to know this is an incredibly dangerous situation,” Obama said. “I’ve asked parents not to put their children in this position.”