President Barack Obama asked Texas Gov. Rick Perry to lean on Texas Republicans to vote for his $3.7 billion immigration bill during a meeting between the two on Air Force One last week, but Perry on Sunday said he would not go along.
Appearing on "Fox News Sunday,"
Perry said the amount of money Obama is asking for is too big, and very little of it is slated for border security. Until Obama gets realistic about the problem, he doesn't need that much money, Perry said.
Instead, Obama could "pick up the phone today" and call on the Defense Department to move 1,000 National Guard troops to the border, as Perry has been calling on for years, he said.
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Only $221 million of Obama's $3.7 billion request to deal with the border crisis is aimed at actual border security. Much of it is slated to facilitate the processing of the tens of thousands of children entering the system.
Perry wants to put troops along the border as a show of force to send a message that the border is closed. Pressed by guest host Brit Hume that the guardsmen would have no power to arrest illegal immigrants, Perry admitted that the troops would be temporary until more border patrol agents could be trained to replace them.
"It's important to do that because this flood of children is pulling the Border Patrol away from their normal duties of keeping bad people, keeping the drug cartels" away, " Perry said. "They're being distracted."
Tens of thousands of children from Central America have been traveling, alone and escorted by drug cartels, through Mexico and crossing into the United States, creating a crisis along the border as Border Patrol agents are forced to essentially babysit rather than attend to their regular duties.
Asked by Hume if it could be inferred that he would not be asking the Texas delegation to support Obama's bill, Perry replied, "I think you have distilled the correct answer."
Arizona Republican Senator John McCain said when asked about the spending bill that the priority had to be stopping the flow of children and teenagers from Central America to the United States.
"The best way to do that is for planeloads of these young people to be returning to the country of origin," he told CNN's "State of the Union." "As soon as they (parents) see their money is not effective in getting their kids to this country, it will stop."
More than 52,000 children traveling alone from Central America have been caught at the U.S.-Mexico border since October, twice as many as the same period the year before.
U.S. immigration officials say the crisis is being driven by poverty and gang and drug violence in Central America, as well as rumors perpetuated by smugglers that children who reach the U.S. border will be permitted to stay.
House of Representatives Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers said last week that the Obama administration asked for "too much money" but declined to say what an appropriate figure would be.
Elsewhere on Sunday, other Republicans said that Obama also needs to move faster — no matter what he does.
"I think we have to act soon," Rep. Mike McCaul of Texas, chairman of House Homeland Security Committee, said on "Fox News Sunday."
McCaul said he has his own border security bill he wants included in a "targeted appropriations bill." The bill would be limited to the end of this year, he said.
"I think we have to deal with this in a humane, compassionate way, but I'm not in favor of building big warehouses in the United States to warehouse these kids," McCaul said. "I think we need to have deterrence."
If large facilities are built, he said, he would prefer to see them in the children's countries of origin, which have better means to return them home.
McCaul said he has visited the border and saw some heartbreaking stories of young children and their mothers.
"I also saw some 17-year-olds who I thought looked more like a threat," he said.
Rep. Bob Goodlatte said Obama may have promised to speed up deportations of Central American children entering the United States illegally, but he's sending mixed signals.
"If you watched his press conference from Texas last week, you'd be hard-pressed to get that message that this president is going to send people home who enter the United States illegally," Goodlatte Sunday on ABC's "This Week."
The Virginia Republican said he favors a targeted appropriations bill that would help detain people and send them back to their country rather than the $3.7 billion sought by Obama.
Goodlatte wants to see Mexico help. He noted that those fleeing bad situations in Central America actually are in better shape once they've simply crossed into Mexico.
Goodlate didn't agree with calls by some Republicans, including former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, to impeach Obama over his handling over various crises, including the border and the IRS.
The Constitution is clear about what is grounds for impeachment, Goodlatte said, adding, "He has not committed the kind of criminal acts that call for that."
Editor's Note: Experience the True Battle on the Border with this Powerful Movie
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