Rep. Tom Price to Obama: Show Some Leadership in Border Crisis

Wednesday, 09 Jul 2014 07:30 PM

By Sean Piccoli

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President Barack Obama's baffling refusal to see for himself the chaos unfolding at the U.S. southern border is "an abject failure of leadership" in the face of an uncontrolled immigration surge brought on by his administration's policies, Rep Tom Price told Newsmax TV on Wednesday.

Confronted with an emergency, people generally "want to see first-hand what that emergency looks like so they can help solve that problem as rapidly as possible," Price, a Georgia Republican, told "MidPoint" host Ed Berliner.

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"This president, instead of going to the border and seeing what the challenge is . . . decides he's just going to go campaign and raise money for the political races this fall," said Price. "It's a huge lack of leadership."

Price was joined on "MidPoint" by Raffi Williams, a Republican National Committee spokesman, who said Obama "would prefer to play pool and drink beer" than mobilize people to solve the crisis.

The president hung out at a trendy Denver microbrewery on Tuesday night and shot pool there with Colorado's Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper as part of his fundraising swing this week through Colorado and Texas.

Obama gave a speech on Wednesday ridiculing House Republicans for inaction on an immigration reform bill passed by the Senate.

"If Congress won't act, I will," he said.

The White House is so far resisting a bipartisan chorus of calls for the president to visit southern Texas — the choke point of the immigration flood — and demonstrate he understands the urgency and enormity of the growing humanitarian crisis.

A White House spokesman said the president is "not worried about the optics" of jetting around to big-dollar campaign events while border communities struggle to manage the influx.

But Obama, caving to pressure from his own advisers, has agreed to meet in Dallas with Texas Gov. Rick Perry — one of his most vocal critics on immigration.

Undocumented migrants — including thousands of unaccompanied children from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador — are pouring in, primarily through Texas. The surge has the Border Patrol scrambling to arrange emergency shelter, medical care, food and water, and then process the new arrivals for hearings.

Critics said the president all but invited the influx when, in 2012, he announced that children of immigrants who came here illegally could stay and seek U.S. residency.

The administration is also dealing with fallout from a 2008 law, signed by President George W. Bush, slowing deportation of children from countries other than neighboring Mexico and Canada in order to protect them from human traffickers.

U.S. officials have rushed Spanish-language ads onto the air in Central American countries, warning families not to send children unaccompanied to the U.S. because they could be injured or killed, or fall prey to traffickers or sex slavery rings — the very dangers the 2008 law was designed to reduce.

The White House has requested $3.7 billion in emergency funding to handle the influx, and has said illegal child immigrants will be "fast-tracked" for deportation back to their home countries.

But thousands of undocumented newcomers already have been freed — given bus tickets or put on planes to other communities where they say they have relatives or other contacts — on a promise to return for formal immigration hearings.

Critics say few of those released will bother keeping those appointments.

Price and Williams both told Berliner that Obama needs to do more than throw money at the problem.

"People are sick of writing blank checks for failed government programs," said Williams.

"There's nothing in current law that precludes this administration from enforcing and controlling and securing our southern border — nothing," said Price, scoffing at the president's claim that "he needs some more laws passed or some more resources to be able to do so."

"If he wants to act from an executive position, well let's act, Mr. President, let's lead. That's what the American people want," said Price.

Criticisms are also mounting from the president's allies. Rep. Henry Cuellar, a Houston Democrat, told MSNBC on Wednesday that Obama's pool night in Denver was "bizarre," given a border crisis demanding his presence, and he repeated the criticism in a CNN interview, the Dallas Morning News reported.

"If he had time, with all due respect, to have a beer and play pool like he did in Colorado last night, then I think after the fundraisers he should make time to go down there," Cuellar told CNN, the report said.

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