POLITICS: PennAve

What Democrats think of Obama's handling of border crisis

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Politics,White House,Congress,Immigration,Barack Obama,National Security,PennAve,Susan Crabtree,Border Security,Mark Pryor,Bill Nelson

With President Obama sending mixed signals on how he plans to handle the immigration crisis at the Texas border, some Democrats on Capitol Hill are having a hard time backing him up and others would like to avoid the question altogether.

When asked if Obama has done enough so far to address the crisis of tens of thousands of unattended children flooding into the country illegally in recent months, Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., demurred.

“I don't know everything he is doing so I wouldn't want to comment,” Pryor, who is facing one of the toughest re-election battles in the country, told the Washington Examiner.

Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., who doesn't face re-election for two more years and recently considered running for governor, had a tough time saying whether the Obama administration should have anticipated the border crisis.

“I can't answer that,” he said flatly. A few minutes later he clarified his response to say he couldn't answer because “I don't know.”

Others had an easier time, although they offered few specifics on the steps Obama should take and whether he has done enough to address the crisis so far.

Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., said he believes the administration has “responded very forcefully” but with comprehensive immigration reform stalled in Congress, Obama has a limited tool set.

“I think we need to give him more tools,” Heinrich said.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said Obama has “embarked on some of the steps that have to be taken.”

“There is a lot more that needs to be done to provide for better security, care, due process and what really needs to happen is immigration reform,” he said.

Blumenthal told the Hartford Courant last week that he doesn't support deporting the tens of thousands of children apprehended crossing the border in Texas.

The comments come after Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, publicly criticized the Obama administration's policy on the influx of the undocumented minors as “one step behind.”

“They should have seen this a long time ago,” said Cuellar, whose district lies along the U.S.-Mexican border, told CNN's “State of the Union.”

Obama last week signaled to Congress that he would seek changes to an immigration law that would make it easier for the Homeland Security secretary to expedite the deportation of minors back to their home countries.

He was expected to make the request when he formally asks Congress on Tuesday for more than $2 billion in emergency spending to deal with the immigration crisis at the border.

Among Democrats, however, there is a dispute over whether the Obama will seek quick changes to the law to try to quell the border crisis or whether the White House will seek to work with key committees to rework the deportation law over time.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., a key author of the law impacting the Central American immigrants, says it already provides the flexibility Obama needs to speed up the judicial process in times of crisis.

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