On Wednesday, President Obama met with Republican Texas Governor Rick Perry, along with other political and religious leaders in Texas, to discuss the ongoing crisis concerning migrant children from Central America being detained at the border. After the meeting, the President addressed the press. During his remarks, Obama indicated that his meeting with Perry had been “constructive,” and that he had no “philosophical objections” to any of the suggestions he heard from the Governor. President Obama also expanded on his plans to help resolve this ongoing issue.
Obama also fired back against criticism, some even coming from his own party, that he needs to go directly to the border to see the issue first hand. Republicans have claimed that the President not flying down and visiting the border is akin to President George W. Bush’s response to Hurricane Katrina. The GOP got more ammunition for this meme when Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) mentioned Katrina in a Fox News interview. Regarding the bad ‘optics’ of him attending fundraisers while not visiting detention centers on the border, the President had this to say:
“This isn’t theater, this is a problem. I’m not interested in photo ops, I’m interested in solving a problem…There’s nothing that is taking place down there that I’m not intimately aware of and briefed on.”
President Obama also stated that Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson has been to the region numerous times and has provided detailed reports to him.
While Obama took the high road, pointing out his plans to fix this ongoing issue and speaking respectfully of Perry, the Texas Governor decided to go in a whole different direction. Governor Perry appeared on Fox News’ Hannity on Wednesday evening. As one would expect when appearing on a show with Sean Hannity, the President was the main focus of negative attention. Even though POTUS commended Perry just hours before and said that there was common ground that can be reached on a solution, Perry decided to slam the President. During the interview, not only did Perry make comparisons to Katrina, he also ridiculed Obama’s prior statements on al-Qaeda:
“I’m pretty sure that if George Bush had said ‘well I sent my FEMA director multiple times’ he still would have been criticized greatly. Because you need to go. That’s what governors do, that’s what presidents do. When there are natural disasters, when there are crises like these, a president needs to be there to show the American people number one that he understands…It’s the same president that said Al-Qaeda’s on the run and I don’t know whether he’s inept, or there’s something else going on, as I’ve said before. But the fact is, the border is not secure.”
I don’t even know why the President tries anymore. The fact is, men like Perry aren’t serious at all about governing or solving any actual problems. President Obama has sent over a bill to Congress that will request $3.7 billion in emergency funds to address the current crisis, which will involve increased border security among other things. Of course, the comprehensive immigration reform bill that passed the US Senate over a year ago also contains provisions for increased border security. However, House Republicans have repeatedly refused to vote on it because it actually addresses other real issues, like what to do with the 11 million+ undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States.
The thing is, this crisis really isn’t about border security. Currently, tens of thousands of children are detained. Why? Because border patrols caught them. More border security doesn’t address the issues going on in Central America. Even if you built a 700-mile double-walled fence all along the southern border, these children would still be fleeing the violent situations going on in their home countries. Moreover, there is a current law that states that children from certain Central American nations will be provided asylum if they reach the border. That law was signed by President George W. Bush in 2008 after being passed by Congress with bipartisan support.
In the end, Perry and other Republicans don’t care about any of this. It is all about framing anything and everything in such a way as to blame the President. For Perry, he has 2016 aspirations, despite his disastrous 2012 Presidential run. Therefore, he is going to say whatever he feels will energize his ‘base,’ which is little more than angry old racist white guys. It is why you see him floating conspiracy theories about how Obama has a plan to bring in millions of immigrants in order to make Texas blue and keep the White House in the hands of Democrats. It is also why Perry, along with many other Republicans, constantly harp about border security. It is an unsubtle way to demonize Hispanics, but effective when trying to drum up support among the ‘true conservatives.’
Justin Baragona is the Managing Editor at Politicus Sports as well as Senior Editor at PoliticusUSA. He was a political writer for 411Mania.com before joining PoliticusUSA. Politically, Justin considers himself a liberal but also a realist and pragmatist. Currently, Justin lives in St. Louis, MO and is married. Besides writing, he also runs his own business after spending a number of years in the corporate world. You can follow Justin on Twitter either with his personal handle (@justinbaragona) or the Sports site’s (@PoliticusSports).