President Obama is in Austin this morning, following an exhaustive schedule in Texas Wednesday evening which included a meeting with Gov. Perry on the growing problem of illegal immigrants from Central American flooding into Texas, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
Following a session with Perry and the heads of social service agencies in Texas, Obama said there is room for agreement.
"The problem here is not major disagreement around actions that could be helpful in dealing with the problem," Obama said. "The question is, is Congress prepared to do what has to be done."
The President has asked Congress for $3.7 billion in extra spending to deal with the crisis. Using the White House numbers of 52,000 unaccompanied minors and 32,000 mothers with children included in the immigration surge, that works out to about $44,000 per immigrant.
"Mister President, please do the math!" Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples, who was not part of the meeting, told News Radio 1200 WOAI when asked about the spending.
Several Republicans, including Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said they are 'not about to be given a lecture from a President who doesn't even bother to go to the border himself.'
When asked about that, the president snapped, 'this isn't theater!'
"Jeh Johnson (Secretary of Homeland Security) has now visited, at my direction, the border five times. He is going for a sixth time this week. He then comes back and reports to me extensively on everything that is taking place. So there is nothing that is taking place down there that I am not intimately aware of and briefed on."
Obama stressed the border security aspects of his $3.7 billion border appropriation request, including the hiring of 26,000 Border Patrol agents.
U.S. Rep Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) is also pushing for fast track legislation to be able to more quickly begin deporting the Central Americans.
"We have been doing that with kids, adults, mothers, from Mexico," he said. "There is no reason why we couldn't do that with other people. Still having protections for credible fear of violence, of a sex crime, those protections of law are there."
Officials point out that political asylum does not exist to protect people from gags and crime. It exists to protect people who are likely to be persecuted by the government if they return to their home country.
Perry continued stressing for a show of force against the smuggling gangs which are driving the Central American surge.
"Its amazing what happens when you surge in, when you show that force," he said. "Then the cartels and other criminal activities drop down considerably."
Obama urged Perry to convince the Texas Republican delegation in Congress to support his proposals.
"Maybe you just need to go ahead and act," Obama said. "That might convince Republicans that they should go ahead and pass the supplemental. And I had to remind him I’m getting sued right now by Mr. Boehner, apparently, for going ahead and acting instead of going through Congress. Well, here's a good test case."
President Obama will discuss the economy during a fundraiser in Austin this morning before going back to Washington.