WH adviser: Katrina comparison 'doesn't make sense'

White House domestic policy adviser Cecilia Muñoz on Wednesday rejected the idea that the crisis on the United States border could be President Obama’s “Katrina moment." 

“I don’t think it makes sense to compare this to a natural disaster. This is a humanitarian situation that we have been on top of from the very beginning,” Muñoz said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) earlier this week suggested the situation could be a repeat from the Bush administration’s failure in 2006 to respond quickly to Hurricane Katrina.

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“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 Monday in a Fox News interview with Neil Cavuto. “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.”

Obama will fly to Texas on Wednesday and will hold a meeting with community leaders in Dallas to discuss possible solutions to the crisis. The president will also meet with Gov. Rick Perry (R-Texas) to discuss the situation. Obama is not scheduled, however, to visit the border during the trip, which both Cuellar and Republicans have been urging him to do.  

Muñoz downplayed criticism of the Obama administration’s response so far, and instead accused people of turning the situation into a “political football.” She stressed that the administration has been focused on the situation since it became clear in May that the influx of people at the border was much higher than in recent years.

Since October, about 52,000 unaccompanied children have illegally crossed into the U.S. from Central America.

Asked if the federal government’s response has been effective, Muñoz first evaded the question and then said, “We will know when we see what happens to the numbers,” adding that the U.S. must right now “send a clear deterrent signal.” 

On Tuesday, the White House asked Congress for $3.7 billion in emergency funding to address the situation on the southwest border.