In Guatemala, Paul blames Obama for migrant surge

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) told the Guatemalan president the surge of child immigrants flooding the U.S. border this year is a result of President Obama’s policies, not problems in Central America. 

"I told him, frankly, that I didn't think the problem was in Guatemala City, but that the problem was in the White House in our country, and that the mess we've got at the border is frankly because of the White House's policies," Paul told Brietbart News in an article published Thursday. 

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Paul sat down with President Otto Pérez Molina for 45 minutes during his humanitarian visit to the country to conduct eye surgery. The potential GOP presidential candidate was a practicing ophthalmologist before entering the Senate. 

Paul said the two mostly discussed the senator's humanitarian visit but that he was happy to answer political questions that came up in the meeting. 

"But I think what's happened at the border is all squarely at the president's lap," Paul said. "The problem and the solution aren't in Guatemala. The problem and solution reside inside the White House."

Nearly 63,000 unaccompanied children have been apprehended by Border Patrol this year attempting to enter the United States. Most of them have originated from Guatemala, El Salvador or Honduras. 

Nearly 16,000 have come from Guatemala alone, though the rate of apprehension has decreased in the past few months.

The White House initially put almost all the blame on violence and crime in the Central American countries. The administration later acknowledged that misinformation being spread about U.S. immigration policy has played a role as well. 

Republicans have blamed a human trafficking law and the president's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program for the huge increase. 

Paul said he is supportive of a $694 million package passed in the House that, among other things, would cut off new funding for the DACA program. 

He said the proposal would have a good chance in the Senate, but Majority Leader Harry Reid (R-Nev.) refuses to bring it to a vote.  

"I'm supportive of the House bill and I think it will go a long way to fixing the problem," Paul said. "But like everything else, nothing good has happened because Sen. Reid has decided that he's not going to allow any votes on any bills this year because he's protecting his members who are vulnerable in the election.”

The Democratic National Committee blasted Paul for criticizing Obama directly to a foreign leader, saying it violates years of tradition. 

"Regardless of political party, we do not go abroad and slam our own because of policy differences. We are better than that," DNC press secretary Michael Czin said.

Though the DNC complimented Paul's aid work, it described the overall trip as a "crass campaign photo op" that included a number of reporters and ad makers.

—Updated 11:30 a.m.