Show Thumbnails
Show Captions

DALLAS President Barack Obama said Congress has the ability to act immediately to address the wave of unaccompanied minors coming over the border from Mexico into the U.S.

Obama spoke in Dallas after what he called a 'good' meeting Wednesday with Gov. Rick Perry and other officials about the unaccompanied minors entering the country by the thousands.

'This is not a short-term problem,' the president told reporters. 'This is a long-term problem.'

Obama said Perry raised four areas of concern and made suggestions. 'There's nothing the governor indicated he would like to say that I have a philosophical objection to,' the president said.

He said if Congress passes his emergency funding request, the government will have to resources to take some of the steps Perry recommended. Obama said the problem is fixable if lawmakers are interested in solving it.

He said if the preference is for politics, it won't be solved.

'If the Texas delegation is prepared to move, this problem can be solved next week,' the president said.

ABC News has learned that Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) will announce joint legislation as soon as Thursday that would seek to reverse a 2008 law at the heard of this humanitarian crisis.

'Our offices are exploring a bipartisan solution to address the humanitarian crisis on the border,' said Megan Mitchell, a spokesman for Cornyn.

The president also said more boots on the ground along the border are possible. 'We're happy to consider how we could deploy National Guard down there, but that's a temporary solution,' he said.

A reporter asked why the president was not traveling to the border to get a first-hand look at the crisis.

'This isn't theater; this is a problem,' the president said. 'I'm not interested in photo-ops; I'm interested in solving a problem.'

Obama said one aspect of the solution is to ensure that the children of Central America can feel secure in their own countries.

In the meantime, the president praised North Texas leaders who are working to provide shelter to hundreds of juvenile immigrants.

'Dallas has been incredibly compassionate about looking at sites to accommodate these children,' Obama said.

Perry was waiting on the tarmac as the president arrived at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport ahead of schedule, at 3:58 p.m. Wednesday afternoon, for a two-day Texas fundraising visit.

Obama smiled as he greeted the Texas governor; the camera angle did not reveal Perry's expression. The two men then walked to a Marine helicopter for a brief jaunt to Dallas Love Field Airport. Pool reporters were too far away to hear what they were saying to one another.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said the 15-minute flight constitutes Perry's much discussed one-on-one time with the president.

The president has resisted calls to visit the border during his Texas visit. In addition to his meeting with Perry, Obama was also expected to discuss the immigration crisis with faith leaders and other Texas officials. That meeting was included the governor; Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins; Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings; Dallas County Commissioner Elba Garcia; Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Dallas); Grand Prairie Mayor Ron Jensen; Chris Liebrum of the Baptist General Convention; Arne Nelson of Catholic Charities; Texas Health and Human Services Director Kyle Janek; and Texas Public Safety Director Steven McCraw.

Obama's trip comes one day after he asked Congress for $3.7 billion in emergency spending to get more resources to the border.

Obama's decision to skip a border visit is likely to provide more fodder for the Republicans and the handful of Democrats who say the president hasn't responded quickly and forcefully enough to the mounting crisis.

Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, raised the prospect that Obama's failure to take a firsthand look at the border crisis could be akin to former President George W. Bush viewing the devastation of Hurricane Katrina from the air instead of on the ground.

'I'm sure that President Bush thought the same thing, that he could just look at everything from up in the sky, and then he owned it after a long time,' Cuellar said on Fox News. 'So I hope this doesn't become the Katrina moment for President Obama, saying that he doesn't need to come to the border. He should come down.'

Perry, a possible GOP presidential candidate in 2016, has been scathing in his criticism of Obama, saying the White House has failed to respond to his repeated warnings about a flood of minors at the border.

'I have to believe that when you do not respond in any way, that you are either inept, or you have some ulterior motive of which you are functioning from,' Perry said Sunday.

Even immigrant advocates, who say Obama's response has been too focused on enhancing enforcement and deportation, said he would benefit from witnessing the influx first hand.

'It would have been nice for him to see and speak to some of these children and some of these mothers with children who've come to find out first hand why they're coming,' Michelle Brane, director of migrant rights and justice at the Women's Refugee Commission, said Wednesday. 'I think that would make a difference in how he sees this problem.' editor Walt Zwirko and the Associated Press contributed to this report

Read or Share this story: