Inhofe: Obama showing disrespect to military by not visiting border

Lauren Schneiderman

Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) on Wednesday accused President Obama of disrespecting the nation’s military by not visiting the Texas border amid a surge in young migrants entering the U.S. illegally.

The Pentagon has been temporarily housing at military bases several thousand of the approximately 52,000 unaccompanied children who have arrived from Central America in recent months.

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"President Obama’s failed policies and campaign tactics have driven the unprecedented flow of unaccompanied minors across the southern border. In response, he has turned to our military bases, like Ft. Sill in Oklahoma, for help with housing these children," said Inhofe, the ranking member on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

"The President's failure to visit the border during his trip to Texas disrespects our military and their limited resources he is calling up to manage a crisis he created," he added.

Obama is visiting Texas on Wednesday and will meet with Gov. Rick Perry (R) and other local officials and faith leaders to discuss the crisis but has faced criticism from both Republicans and Democrats for not planning to visit the border personally.

The president will also attend a Democratic fundraiser in the evening, leading GOP lawmakers to accuse him of putting political interests over the nation’s security.

Inhofe said Obama was also snubbing the thousands of border agents, local officials and vulnerable children caught in the crosshairs.

"President Obama should put his political fundraising on hold, accept the appropriate leadership role of a president and personally witness this crisis that is leaving young children in the hands of human traffickers and threatening the security of our nation," Inhofe said.

The Pentagon has agreed to house up to 3,600 children at military bases for 120 days. On Tuesday, the Pentagon said it was discussing plans with the Department of Heath and Human Services to house up to 5,000 more children.

"The responsibility for the children lies with Health and Human Services," said Pentagon press secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby. "We are providing the facilities, the physical infrastructure, the places for them to sleep and to bathe and to eat, but we are not responsible for the children themselves. It is an HHS mission."

In addition to Fort Sill, the Pentagon is housing children at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland and Naval Base Ventura County in Port Hueneme in California.

The HHS will reimburse the Pentagon for housing the migrants, Kirby said. 

— This story was updated at 2:08 p.m.