Tags: Barack Obama | Immigration | henry cuellar | texas | democrat | border

Rep. Cuellar: Obama Risks 'Katrina Moment' by Not Visiting Border

By    |   Monday, 07 July 2014 06:26 PM

Rep. Henry Cuellar, a Texas Democrat, warns that President Barack Obama could be facing his own "Katrina moment" if he refuses to visit the border facilities housing Central American children. 

"I'm sure that President [George W.] Bush thought the same thing, that he could just look at everything from up in the sky," Cuellar said Monday on Fox News Channel's "Your World with Neil Cavuto." 

Cuellar is among a growing number of Democrats joining a bipartisan push for Obama to take a personal look at what is being described as a "humanitarian crisis" on the border.

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Thousands of aliens from Central America, mostly minors and mothers, have been streaming over the U.S.-Mexican border and surrendering to American border agents in recent months. Parents are paying Mexican drug cartels to smuggle the children under the belief that they will be allowed to stay in the United States.

Up to a third of the girls report being raped along the way and border patrol agents say some of the children have been killed by their smugglers.

Obama plans three fundraisers in Texas this week and has been criticized for declining invitations from Gov. Rick Perry and several Democrats to tour the border facilities where the illegal immigrants are being held in confined spaces with limited access to bathrooms.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest was asked Monday about the bad optics of Obama raising political cash in the state while refusing to visit the border himself.

"We're not worried about those optics," Earnest replied, "and that's simply because the president is very aware of the situation that exists on the southwest border."

Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson agreed with Earnest's assessment, telling MSNBC's "NewsNation" on Monday, "I think that he has people in place to take care of that situation. There have been leaders from all over the Congress to visit the border. The Homeland Security has been there. What would be the point in the president going?"

But Johnson, a Democrat representing much of the Dallas area, wasn't joined by all her fellow Texas Democrats. Others, such as Cuellar, have been critical of Obama for staying away from area.

"He should come down," Cuellar, who represents to border city of Laredo, told Fox News.

A day earlier, Cuellar appeared on CNN's "State of the Union," saying that the Obama administration "should have seen this coming a long time ago ... because we saw those numbers increasing."

An American law that doesn't allow for immediate deportation of illegal immigrants from noncontiguous countries has boosted the flow of people from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala in recent months.

"There is an incentive that if you bring your child over here, or you’re a child by yourself, you’re going to be let go. And that’s exactly what’s happening," Cuellar told CNN. "Our immigration courts are so backlogged. There’s not enough detention spaces. … This is the incentive we have to take away."

Cuellar wrote Obama a month ago, suggesting courts and more security be set up near the border to hasten the process, but he told Fox News he has not heard back.

Texas Democratic Reps. Ruben Hinojosa and Filemon Vela sent a letter to Obama last week requesting a border visit, The Hill reports.

"To fully comprehend what is happening in our region, one must see this firsthand because one will certainly be impacted by the humanitarian side of this issue," Hinojosa said. "More work needs to be done."

The Hill also reported
that another border Democrat, Rep. Raul Grijalva of Arizona, co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said during an MSNBC interview that this crisis deserves a visit from the President.

"I think a visit by the president is reaffirming that the borderlands along the southwest border, are vital and important to this nation," Grijalva said, "so I think it would be important and very symbolic."

Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson visited the area last week. But with the criticism from within his own party of visiting rich donors in Dallas and Austin and staying away from the border, the White House may plan an event to discuss the issue, just not at the border itself.

The White House is also expected on Tuesday to announce a request of $2 billion to speed up the processing of the border crossers. Obama's two-day Texas visit begins on Wednesday.

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Rep. Henry Cuellar, a Texas Democrat, warns that President Barack Obama could be facing his own "Katrina moment" if he refuses to visit the border facilities housing Central American children.
henry cuellar, texas, democrat, border
Monday, 07 July 2014 06:26 PM
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