Gov. Rick Perry Monday turned down what he characterized as President Barack Obama’s offer for a “quick handshake on the tarmac” at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport on Wednesday, but said he would juggle his schedule to accommodate a “substantive meeting” with the president on the border crisis any time during his two-day visit to Texas.
In a letter to the president, Perry wrote, “I appreciate
the offer to greet you at Austin-Bergstrom Airport, but a quick handshake on the tarmac will not allow for a thoughtful discussion regarding the humanitarian and national security crises enveloping the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas. I would instead offer to meet with you at any time during your visit to Texas for a substantive meeting to discuss this critical issue. With the appropriate notice, I am willing to change my schedule to facilitate this request.”
“At any point while you are here, I am available to sit down privately so we can talk and you may directly gain my state’s perspective on the effects of an unsecured border and what is necessary to make it secure,” Perry wrote the president.
The governor has been among the president’s harshest critics as a rising tide of women and children, and unaccompanied children, mostly from Central America, have crossed the Texas border from Mexico — with more than 50,000 undocumented young people arriving in the United States since October.
“I don’t believe he particularly cares whether or not the border of the United States is secure,” Perry said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” charging the president was either “inept” or had an “ulterior motive” in failing to secure the border.
President Obama is in Dallas and Austin Wednesday raising money for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the Democratic National Committee. On Thursday, he will be featured at another DNC fund raiser in Austin in the morning, followed by a public event at the Paramount Theater in downtown Austin at which he will talk about the economy, before returning to Washington, D.C.
The president will not be visiting the border while in Texas, an omission which Perry has said would be a “real reflection of his lack of concern of what’s really going on there.”
In his letter to Obama, Perry writes, “Since first calling the issue of border security to your attention in a 2009 letter requesting 1,000 National Guard troops to assist with securing our border, I have followed up with several further communications inviting you to tour the border and view this crisis firsthand. In addition, I have provided information on how the Texas National Guard and the Texas Department of Public Safety have supported, and continue to support, surge operations along a border, which has become a nexus for criminal activity of all kinds.