POLITICS: PennAve

Why Obama says he didn't visit the U.S.-Mexico border

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Politics,White House,Brian Hughes,Immigration,Barack Obama,Texas,PennAve,Border Security,Rick Perry

President Obama in a hastily arranged press conference Wednesday insisted that he had not visited the U.S.-Mexico border during a trip to Texas because it would amount to political theater.

“This isn't theater. This is a problem,” Obama said in Dallas following a meeting with Texas Gov. Rick Perry to discuss the surge in unaccompanied minors crossing the southwest border. “

“I'm not interested in photo ops,” he added. “I'm interested in solving a problem."

Republicans have hammered Obama for not visiting the border while tens of thousands of minors enter the U.S. illegally from Central America.

The president on Tuesday requested $3.7 billion in additional funding from Congress to help speed the deportations of minors back to their home countries.

Obama originally planned to hold only fundraisers in Texas Wednesday but added a last-minute meeting with faith leaders and local officials to discuss the crisis at the U.S-Mexico border. Perry also spoke one-on-one with Obama during a 15-minute ride on Marine One to the meeting.

In a readout of their discussion, Perry’s office said the governor called on Obama to visit the border, deploy National Guard troops there and make it easier to immediately send minors back home, as the law allows the federal government to do with unaccompanied minors from Mexico.

But Obama put the blame for the crisis on a familiar target: Congress.

“What I emphasized to the governor is the problem here is not a major disagreement around the actions that could be helpful in dealing with the problem," Obama said. "The challenge is: Is Congress prepared to act to put the resources in place to get this done?"

The president called on Perry to pressure Texas Republicans to unite behind his $3.7 billion funding request. But Obama doubted the motivations of his GOP rivals.

"If I sponsored a bill declaring apple pie American,” he quipped, “it might fall victim to partisan politics."

Obama later Wednesday will attend another fundraiser in Austin, Texas.

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