“He then comes back and reports to me extensively on everything that’s taking place. So there’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 said he told Perry “it would be useful for my Republican friends to rediscover the concept of negotiation and compromise.”
On Perry’s call for National Guard troops at the border, Obama said, “we’re happy to consider how we could deploy National Guard down there, but that’s a temporary solution, that’s not a permanent solution, and so why wouldn’t we go ahead and pass the permanent solution, or at least a longer term solution?”
The president indicated he’d be willing to consider a National Guard deployment if Republicans pass the $3.8 billion package.
“If I sponsored a bill declaring apple pie American, it might — it might fall victim to partisan politics. I get that,” he said. “…As I indicated to Governor Perry, he suggested, ‘well, maybe you just need to go ahead and act, and that might convince Republicans that they should go ahead and pass the supplemental,’ and I had to remind him, ‘I’m getting sued right now, by Mr. Boehner apparently, for going ahead and acting instead of going through Congress.’”
“…I didn’t get any promises, but it was a constructive conversation.”
In a statement after the meeting, Perry said he urged Obama to visit the border, asked for 1,000 National Guard troops on the border right away with Predator drones at their disposal, and asked for medical screenings of all illegal immigrants including an assessment of holding centers by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Perry also asked Obama to rescind DHS catch-and-release policies pending an appearance before an immigration judge and to modify policies on the capture of illegal immigrants from countries south of Mexico.
“Five hundred miles south of here in the Rio Grande Valley there is a humanitarian crisis unfolding that has been created by bad public policy, in particular the failure to secure the border,” Perry said. “Securing the border is attainable, and the president needs to commit the resources necessary to get this done.”
Earnest said the Justice Department is “adding resources and assets that can be deployed to investigate and disrupt criminal networks that are trafficking people to the border.”
“I want to give credit where it is due to the government of Mexico that earlier this week announced five new border control centers along its southern border with Guatemala,” Earnest added at today’s press briefing. “This will allow the Mexicans to ramp up their effort to tighten security and more effectively monitor border activity.”
Vice President Joe Biden also phoned Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina, Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez, and Salvadoran President Salvador Sanchez Ceren as “part of our ongoing collaboration to stem the flow of illegal migration at the source.”
“So as you can see, this administration, at the specific direction of the President, is moving forward with a sense of urgency on multiple fronts to address the situation at the border,” Earnest said. “We’re calling on Congress to act with a similar sense of urgency to make sure we have the additional resources to ramp up these efforts.”
After making his statement, Obama jumped in his motorcade to head to a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee fundraiser at a Dallas residence.