‘Borderlands deserve a presidential visit’

One of the leading liberal Democrats in the House is urging President Obama to visit the U.S.-Mexico border to survey the humanitarian crisis there.

Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), the co-chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, on Monday said "the borderlands deserve a presidential visit.”

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"I think a visit by the president is reaffirming that the borderlands along the southwest border, are vital and important to this nation," Grijalva said during an interview with MSNBC. "So I think it would be important and very symbolic."

Republicans have called on Obama to visit the border when he visits Texas on Wednesday for fundraisers, saying he needs to see for himself the centers where tens of thousands of Central American migrant children are being detained after a mass flow across the border.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R), who is considering a bid for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, has repeatedly pressed Obama to join him on a tour of the area.

Grijalva stopped short of saying Obama should change his immediate plans for this week, saying the visit had been "made into an issue."

But the Arizona Democrat said the crisis would continue to be of concern "in the long term."

Earlier Monday, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said the administration was "not worried" about the optics of Obama skipping a border visit during his fundraising swing through Dallas and Austin.

"The president is very aware of the situation that exists on the southwest border," Earnest said. "Senior administration officials, from the secretary of Homeland Security, the secretary of HHS, top CBP officials, even senior White House officials have traveled in the last couple of weeks to the southwest border."

Grijalva's call comes one day after Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) joined congressional Republicans in slamming the administration's handling of the immigrant crisis.

"With all due respect to the administration, they're one step behind. They should have seen this coming a long time ago," Cuellar told CNN.

Grijalva is not the first Democrat to call on Obama to visit the border. Last week, Texas Reps. Rubén Hinojosa and Filemon Vela said Obama must see "firsthand" the developing crisis.

"We know that you share our interest in caring for these young migrants while addressing the root causes which have driven them to leave their homes and seek refuge in the United States, and we look forward to seeing you in Texas," the Democratic lawmakers said in a letter to the White House.
 
The White House is expected on Tuesday to unveil at least $2 billion in emergency funding for the border.