Obama caught in border photo-op catch-22, White House says
July 10th, 2014
02:12 PM ET
3 weeks ago

Obama caught in border photo-op catch-22, White House says

(CNN) - Damned if he does. Damned if he doesn't.

That is essentially the White House explanation for why President Obama opted against a visit to the country's besieged southern border during his trip to Texas this week.

Frustrated White House officials have argued privately that Republicans in Congress would have criticized the president had he decided to see the crisis on the border first-hand.

"I'm not interested in photo ops. I'm interested in solving a problem," Obama said in response to the uproar over his Texas itinerary.

Instead of personally viewing the "humanitarian situation," as the White House now describes the border emergency, the president chose to add a brief meeting on the crisis with Texas Governor Rick Perry and other elected officials in Dallas on Wednesday.

"And those who say I should visit the border, when you ask them what should we be doing, they're giving us suggestions that are embodied in legislation that I've already sent to Congress," the president told reporters.

Republican critics have seized on the White House decision to pass on a border visit in favor of keeping an extensive fundraising schedule as an example of a detached, out-of-touch president.

"The problem speaks for itself when the president, who would prefer to hang out with campaign donors and other political supporters, would decide not to have any interaction with those that are directly affected by his failed policies," said Senator John Cornyn, R-Texas.

But a White House official noted how Cornyn's office had characterized Obama's trip to the border for a speech on immigration reform three years ago.

"What Senator Cornyn is looking for, President Obama cannot deliver with another speech or photo op, and that's presidential leadership. Words matter little when there is no action," Kevin McLaughlin, a Cornyn spokesman said just days before the president's 2011 speech at the border.

GOP critics still complain about some of the barbs included in Obama's 2011 remarks at the Chamizal National Memorial in El Paso.

"You know, they said we needed to triple the Border Patrol. Or now they're going to say we need to quadruple the Border Patrol," Obama said at the time about his Republican critics.

"Or they'll want a higher fence. Maybe they'll need a moat. Maybe they want alligators in the moat. They'll never be satisfied."

A trip to the border this week, a White House official said, may have invited similar GOP complaints.

What aides to the president apparently did not anticipate was the surge of second-guessing from fellow Democrats.

"It does bother me. I wish the President of the United States were going down there," Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Illinois, said Wednesday on CNN's "Crossfire."

But a White House official said the president's political advisers are not disappointed in defections from party loyalists. The official acknowledged that the plight faced by tens of thousands of Central American children now in immigration limbo has emotions running high.

A trip to the border in the coming weeks has not been ruled out, one official said.

White House officials note other top administration officials have made repeated trips to the border. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson makes his 6th visit to the border on Friday.


Filed under: Immigration • President Obama
soundoff (76 Responses)
  1. Chris..E.al

    And right now Obama is ranting in Texas telling and saying that all job creators (You know the big wigs)
    should be taxed out of business or make it where they want hire or expand . Thats not very smart for a nation in need of jobs . And 0bama just wants to help you ? What is he doing ? Does he even know ? You cant have it both ways ?

    July 10, 2014 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  2. Lynda/Minnesota

    "Name one thing- just one thing a GOP politician in elected office has done for America this year."

    (waving hand in air ... I know the answer .... choose me, choose me).

    They manage to take more time off away from Congress then any other Congress in American history. They are you betcha also too getting ready for August recess as I type.

    July 10, 2014 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  3. patNY

    GOP criticism of Obama has ZERO credibility since they decided before he took the oath of office in January 2009, to do whatever they could to make him a one term president, to say NO to everything he asks for even if it was something they had before supported, etc.

    July 10, 2014 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  4. it must be said

    rs
    The only person doing anything is the President.
    -–

    Yeah! Like causing this disaster on our southern border with his insane policies and pen. OBAMA is the one that unilaterally granted amnesty to young illegals in this country.

    Why isn't he doing ANYTHING to stop the flow of illegals? Why won't he deploy the National Guard? All he wants to do is help distribute all these illegals all over the country! Obama is flitting with impeachment if he continues to allow this to happen and helps facilitate it.

    July 10, 2014 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  5. yeahright

    MMECitizen
    If this had been a Republican, Tea Party, Libertarian or Independent prez the Dems would have been howling like a cat with its tail under a rocker! Bush was hammered for his actions towards Katrina ..... Obama gets a pass cause he blames it on Congress when in fact his very own DACA is the cause of this crisis.
    -------
    DACA has nothing to do with what is going on here. DACA applies only to kids that came into this country before their 16th birthday AND have been in this country for 5 years or mor, AND have graduated from a US High School or gotten a GED.

    July 10, 2014 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  6. Malory Archer

    Trooth
    The President had no problem play pool and drinking a beer a few days ago for a campaign fundraising photo op. He is making himself look bad here. One of his advisors needs to be fired for this.

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    I've read this same comment by numerous posters today. Must be today's rightwing radio bloviator/faux newz whining point.

    July 10, 2014 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  7. kurt

    "@Dutch, the inconvenient truth is that Reid and Pelosi are opposed to repealing "Dubya's stupid law". Btw, I seem to remember "Dubya" catching a ton of (deserved) grief for not visiting New Orleans quickly enough after Katrina. Dubya blew it, and so has Obama."

    The key difference is Bush had the power to send aid to Katrina victims through FEMA and other agencies.

    Obama doesn't have the power to change this situation. The US handling of these kids is set in stone by a law passed several times up until 2008 (when it became permanent) which states that unaccompanied minors coming over from these countries have to be taken in, housed and cared for by the US until hearings are held on each individually to determine if they recieve asylum. This law passed by UNANIMOUS CONSENT in both the house and senate with no objection. Boehner didn't object. McConnell didn't object. Not a single republican objected... nor did the president of the US... George Bush.

    The only people who have the power to change this is congress. While Obama is asking for more money to speed the process along, he can't do anythig beyond that. He has to follow the law.

    July 10, 2014 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  8. rs

    it must be said

    rs
    The only person doing anything is the President.
    -–

    Yeah! Like causing this disaster on our southern border with his insane policies and pen. OBAMA is the one that unilaterally granted amnesty to young illegals in this country.
    _______________________
    Ummm, It?

    The President is following, to the letter, a bill signed into law by President Bush that prevents the deportation of children without first placing them in the care of a family member. You need to remember that- because Republicans voted for it in 2008.

    July 10, 2014 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  9. Rudy NYC

    Chris..E.al

    And right now Obama is ranting in Texas telling and saying that all job creators (You know the big wigs)
    should be taxed out of business or make it where they want hire or expand . Thats not very smart for a nation in need of jobs . And 0bama just wants to help you ? What is he doing ? Does he even know ? You cant have it both ways ?
    -----------------------------–
    Have you ever tried "Gas-X"?

    July 10, 2014 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  10. rs

    Chris..E.al

    And right now Obama is ranting in Texas telling and saying that all job creators (You know the big wigs)
    should be taxed out of business or make it where they want hire or expand . Thats not very smart for a nation in need of jobs . And 0bama just wants to help you ? What is he doing ? Does he even know ? You cant have it both ways ?
    ______________________
    Once again Chris- pointless, and inaccurate. If giving rich people and corporations tax cuts makes jobs, where the hell are they? Just read a fascinating study that says Bush's tax cuts (started in 2000) COST each and every taxpayer $18 k, for services, extra fees, increased local taxes, and even damages to our cars and homes and more because of the sharp drop in revenues, that in turn caused a lack of investment in our nation's infrastructure, education and social structures in the United States.
    Tax cuts only help those that get 'em, and in this case-it was the rich.

    July 10, 2014 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  11. Gurgyl

    -if it allows, I Shall vote for Obama a third term too.

    July 10, 2014 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  12. Amazed

    ThinkAgain: If you don't like Congress, get rid of the repub/tea bag majority
    @Amazed: "I am trying very hard to not believe that Obama is intentionally trying to destroy this country but he is making it very difficult."

    Laughable! The gop has done nothing except try to obstruct a president who was ELECTED TWICE by a majority of Americans, who also retained a Democratic majority in the Senate and cast 1.5 million MORE votes for Dems in the House than were received by gop/tea bags.

    Why should our enemies bother to attack us when the gop/tea bags are doing the work for them?
    -----------
    Now that you brought up the subject, we probably are more susceptible to attacks by our enemies given Obama's total lack of decisiveness. I don't like saying this, but he acts like he is not really interested in being President any longer.

    July 10, 2014 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  13. Longtimer

    Tom l

    There is no catch 22 to doing the right thing.
    ________________________
    Only if everything is either black or white to you. Nothing is either black or white.

    July 10, 2014 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  14. rla

    Another day another lie, another failure??? How long can this go on?

    July 10, 2014 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  15. Mag

    It will be nice in a few years when we at least have the opportunity to have a President that is a competent and experienced leader. At this point it doesn't matter which affiliation.

    July 10, 2014 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  16. Rudy NYC

    Lynda/Minnesota

    "Name one thing- just one thing a GOP politician in elected office has done for America this year."

    (waving hand in air ... I know the answer .... choose me, choose me).

    They manage to take more time off away from Congress then any other Congress in American history. They are you betcha also too getting ready for August recess as I type.
    ======================================================
    We are just barely past the 4th of July, and there are less than 30 legislative days left on the calender. I had heard only 16 days, but I'm not sure if that meant only before the August recess, or for the entire year. Thanks to the sequestered budget agreement, there is no "must pass" legislation left for them to do. It's problem solving time.

    July 10, 2014 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  17. anthony

    What would he lose if he goes? Almost none. But he has everything to lose if not there to dee the crisis first hand but hang around with the donors. He is the president he has to be there when we have the problems. Why he showed up when Sandy hit newjersey just becausr he was running for reelection

    July 10, 2014 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  18. Say WHAT???

    Obama isn't running for re-election. Why is he afraid of going to the border or these places holding thousands of illegals? Is he afraid of catching something? Why isn't he going down there? Is he afraid to meet hispanics or something? Open borders is what the Democrats have always wanted. Obama should be down there rejoicing with all the new arrivals. He and the Democrats are getting what they always wanted, a full fledged invasion of the USA. I would expect the Democrats to be jumping for joy at this point.

    July 10, 2014 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  19. Gunderson

    Every Excuse in the Book,
    Ok there good buddy, I will pass on your Photo-Op. Just tell me the Transports will be flying South in the next 5 minutes. News Flash:: There will be no transports flying south ! Only farming out in the country of 200,000 illegals. There has been much speculation. Is Obama a cunning low life screwing the country at every turn or he the most Incompetent President ever elected. So take a guess !!! A big liberal seems to say he is totally incompetent !!!

    July 10, 2014 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  20. anthony

    He is the president not the congress. Show his leadership. Look at Pres. Reagon Clinton both Bushes specially the second BUsh the democrats hate them like dog , called them all the names such as Hitler, murderer but he still found the way to work with them. Compare how democrats treated Bush under his terms alot worse than Gop treat Obana now

    July 10, 2014 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  21. Ta111

    DACA is the cause because these kids THINK obama will grant them amnesty. 95% of these kids interviewed gave obama's policies as the reason for coming here without parents. Obviously, if obama didn't sign DACA these kids wouldn't be mislead. So yes, obama owns this cluster and many others. Worst president since WW11.

    July 10, 2014 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  22. The REAL Truth...

    I used to think that the right wing trolls on here at least had a brain... after the Cliven Bundy debacle, the VA "scandal" and now the illegals invading our southern border, I have concluded that BOTH Bobby Jindal and Glenn Beck were 100% correct. Completely clueless, uninformed and parroting the Republican talking points. I wish those casting aspersions would get their facts straight.
    The border issue has nothing to do with Obama's policies.
    – enforcement is not the issue.
    – Mexican influx is net NEGATIVE over the last 6 yrs. That means more are leaving than arriving
    – More illegals have been deported under this administration than Bush/Clinton COMBINED (DHS stats)
    – Border Patrol has almost doubled in size since 2009.
    – The current border issue has nothing to do with the Dream Act.
    – The central Americans arriving are technically refugees (you can look that up).

    The influx, starting in 2011 is due to a Clinton-era law, reauthorized by Bush in 2008 called the "Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008". It REQUIRES that illegal minors from non-contiguous countries (Mexico, Canada) be given an opportunity to appear at an "immigration hearing" and "consult with an advocate", and it recommends that they have access to legal counsel. It also requires that they be turned over to the care of the Department of Health and Human Services, and the agency was directed to place the minor “in the least restrictive setting that is in the best interest of the child” and to explore reuniting those children with family members. Which is why they are being bussed around.

    It's hilarious reading all the comments about the the Prez not following laws.. yet he is doing EXACTLY THAT.
    The dumbing_down of the right wing electorate continues at a frightening rate.

    July 10, 2014 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  23. Name JK. SFL. THE GOP HOWDEE GOWDEE SHOW with special guest ISSA the CLOWN

    Most of the dumb GOP posters COULDNT do the job HALF as WELL as Obama has, SO JUST SHUT UP , the GOP has 0 CREDIBILITY and pack your bags because there are going to be a lot of GOP CANTORS in November , doing NOTHING for SIX YEARS HAS consequence lIKE LOSING in November !!!!!!!

    July 10, 2014 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  24. excuse my rant

    rs
    denny

    Enough of this! Enforce our laws! Stand up people – we are being lied to, taken advantage of and becoming powerless. We are losing our country to a President who has an agenda that doesn't include our safety, our family economics or our opinions. We need to stand up soon. Send illegals home to wait in line with the law abiding future immigrants and citizens.
    _______________________
    Sorry- just what law(s) aren't being enforced? Go ahead. List them. Better yet- look at our current immigration law. Perhaps you'll learn something. Meanwhile just what coherent reason could the Chief Executive, the President of these United States possibly have to bring kids here from Ecuador or El Salvador? How in anyway does this humanitarian crisis take away YOUR power or take advantage of YOU? You might as well believe in bigfoot with logic like that. Face facts: our border with Mexico is 3,000 miles long. There never has been a fence that can stop people even along a quarter of that distance. We have no ability to seal the borders or meddle in the internal affairs of several Central American nations, much less Mexico to stem the tide of children escaping their failed nations. That is called FACT. Deal in those first, then you can spout your conspiracies.
    _______________________________________

    Come on, rs. You and I both know that bigfoot is real and he vote straight Democrat with the help of his fake ID.
    :-)

    July 10, 2014 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  25. AlbaMN

    They are right you know, whatever he does, even if it was to give them everything they asked for on a platter, it will be wrong. How do you make any significant difference for the American people with such shenanigans? Not just with immigration, with any issue facing us today, their answer is always the same, "we don't know what to do, but certainly NOT whatever Obama wants to do."

    July 10, 2014 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
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