Roger Runningen and Darrell Preston (c) 2014, Bloomberg News.
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama will meet with Texas Gov. Rick Perry in Dallas Wednesday to discuss the surge of unaccompanied, undocumented children crossing the U.S.- Mexican border.
“Governor Perry is pleased that President Obama has accepted his invitation to discuss the humanitarian and national security crises along our southern border, and he looks forward to meeting with the president tomorrow,” Lucy Nashed, a Perry spokeswoman, told Bloomberg News in an e-mail.
Obama and Perry will meet as part of a roundtable discussion on the crisis. White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett wrote to the governor Monday on Obama’s behalf to extend the invitation to join the discussion.
“The president would welcome a meeting with you while he is in Texas,” Jarrett wrote in a letter to Perry. Obama will be in Texas for political fundraisers in Dallas and Austin.
Perry had earlier dismissed an invitation to meet Obama on the tarmac in Austin, the state capital. He instead suggested a private meeting on the surge of children and adults illegally crossing U.S. border, according to the Austin American-Statesman newspaper.
Obama and Perry will join faith leaders and state and local officials in Dallas to discuss the migrant crisis on the border and how best to contain it. Obama will be on a three- day fundraising trip for Democrats in Colorado and Texas but he has no plans to visit the border, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said.
“We’re not worried about those optics,” Earnest told reporters Monday. “That’s simply because the president is very aware of the situation that exists on the southwest border.” He cited administration officials, including Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, who have visited the border and facilities housing a rising number of detained children.
Obama asked Congress today to approve $3.7 billion to contain the surge of illegal Central American migrants entering the U.S. at the South Texas border.
More than 52,000 unaccompanied children arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border from Oct. 1 through June 15, about double the total in a similar period a year earlier, U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported. Most of the children are smuggled through Central America and Mexico, according to the White House.
Perry, a potential Republican candidate for president in 2016, has said he’s warned the Obama administration for more than two years about unaccompanied children showing up at the U.S.-Mexico border.
“I don’t believe he particularly cares whether or not the border of the United States is secure,” Perry said July 6 on ABC’s “This Week.”
In asking Congress for $3.7 billion, the administration is seeking to bolster efforts to contain the influx of unaccompanied, undocumented children crossing the border.
The administration plans to increase detainment and boost court capacity to speed decisions, expand law enforcement and prosecution of criminal networks, seek greater cooperation with Central American countries and increase the amount of housing, care and transportation while migrant cases are judged.
Most of the children crossing the border unaccompanied by a parent probably won’t qualify for humanitarian relief and will be deported, Obama’s spokesman said yesterday.
“It’s unlikely that most of the kids who go through this process will qualify for humanitarian relief, which is to say that most of them will not have a legal basis,” Earnest said. He said courts, in most cases, would rule that migrants don’t have a legal reason to be in the U.S.
In Congress, Republican senators said they’ll seek spending cuts to pay for a funding request, while the administration is seeking to treat the request as emergency spending, which would add to the deficit.
“Absolutely it ought to be offset,” the Senate Appropriations Committee’s ranking Republican, Richard Shelby of Alabama, said yesterday. “It ought to be offset from Obamacare.”
–With assistance from Elizabeth Wasserman, Margaret Talev, James Rowley and Erik Wasson in Washington.
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