The Rev. Jesse Jackson on Friday attacked President Barack Obama for devoting more attention to the illegal immigration crisis than the problems facing the nation's inner cities but walked back from harsher comments made two days earlier to a Chicago radio station.
"Getting support for those children and the humanitarian crisis is the moral and right thing to do," Jackson told Greta Van Susteren
on her Fox News program. "Resources are important.
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"But there is also a crisis in Chicago," he added. "It's not either, it's both."
More than 52,000 illegal minors have been arrested at the U.S. border between Oct. 1 and June 15. Many are coming from Mexico and such Central American countries as El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala. Others are being flown into Arizona and other states after they are processed by immigration officials.
Obama has dubbed the situation "a humanitarian crisis" — though Republicans charge that his administration's refusal to enforce immigration policies is behind the deluge. The president asked Congress this week for $3.7 billion to address the problem.
On Wednesday, Jackson told WBBM-AM
that Obama needed to send $2 billion to combat the myriad problems facing the Windy City.
"If we can find $4 billion for those children, and we should, we can find $2 billion for Chicago," Jackson said at a news conference. "There are more children involved, and more have been killed, and more have been shot."
But in his interview with Van Susteren, Jackson refused to say directly whether Obama is neglecting the nation's core cities because of the border crisis.
"I don't think it's time to slam anybody," he said. "We cannot turn our back on the children of the border. Nor the children of Lawndale and Roseland and Austin, as well."
Jackson was referring to several strapped communities in the Chicago area.
Chicago, he said, faced such ills as high rates of unemployment, homelessness, housing foreclosures — and a soaring crime rate fueled by gun violence.
So far this year, 201 Chicagoans have died
as a result of gunfire, DNAinfo Chicago reports. Last year, 421 were killed by guns.
Jackson called for a White House conference on urban initiatives that would include several federal agencies — including the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Labor Department, and the Department of Health and Human Services.
"You have a level of trauma and fear here," Jackson said. "You convene HUD and HHS and Labor and let Chicago be a model for reconstruction."
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