Why White House, Rick Perry are taking swipes at each other

On Fox News, Texas Gov. Rick Perry made comments related to the border crisis, and at a briefing Thursday, the White House press secretary offered the Obama administration's perspective on immigration issues.

Jacquelyn Martin/AP
White House press secretary Josh Earnest speaks during his daily news briefing at the White House in Washington, Thursday, July 3, 2014.

With President Obama scheduled to spend two days in Texas next week, the White House and Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) are trading charges about the crisis on the Southwestern border created by a flood of unaccompanied child immigrants.

The president currently does not plan to visit the border during his trip to Dallas and Austin July next Wednesday and Thursday, the White House says. Governor Perry, appearing Wednesday on Fox News’s “Fox & Friends,” said, “If he doesn’t come to the border, I think it’s a real reflection of his lack of concern of what’s really going on there.”

Perry added, “If the president of the United States is really serious about securing that border, we can show him how to do that.”

At Thursday’s White House press briefing, press secretary Josh Earnest made a case for why Mr. Obama does not have plans to make a border visit while in Texas. “The president is getting regular updates and has a very good sense both of what is happening there on the ground and how effectively resources are being deployed to confront those challenges.”

In a swipe at the governor, Mr. Earnest added, “I think the reason that some people are suggesting the president should go to the border ... is that they would rather play politics than address some of these challenges.”

Perry has charged that the 52,000 unaccompanied children entering the country illegally since October is the result of bad diplomacy by the Obama administration.

The Texas governor has made that charge in a variety of places, including a Monitor-hosted lunch with reporters on June 19. At that session he said, “The question that is out on the table and needs to be asked is diplomatically, why are the governments of Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Mexico allowing this to happen? I consider it a failure of diplomacy by the United States in working with those countries....”

When reporters raised Perry’s diplomacy charges on Thursday, Earnest offered a spirited response, seeking to direct attention to the immigration legislation that has languished in Congress.

“The truth is it is hard to take seriously Governor Perry’s concerns when everybody who has taken a look at this understands that if we wanted to send a clear signal about our seriousness of purpose when it comes to addressing some of the problems of our immigration system, the easiest way to do that is to pass the common-sense immigration reform proposal that already has passed through the Senate with bipartisan support,” he said.

Earnest also had a suggestion for Perry: “The most effective way for us to address this problem and the most effective way Governor Perry can help, if that is what he says he wants to do, would be to pick up the phone and call the Republican members of the House of Representatives that represent the state of Texas and tell them to support the bipartisan proposal to reform our immigration system that passed through the Senate.”

Perry testified Thursday at a “field hearing” in southern Texas that the US House Homeland Security Committee scheduled about the border crisis. In his prepared remarks, Perry said, “Nobody is doing any of these children the slightest favor by delaying a rapid return to their countries of origin, which in many cases is not Mexico.”

Back in Washington, Earnest said the administration was “balancing a lot of different imperatives” in dealing with the border crisis, including wanting to treat the children in a humanitarian fashion. “But first and foremost, this administration is committed to enforcing the law,” he said.

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