AUSTIN -- President Barack Obama and Texas Governor Rick Perry will meet Wednesday in Dallas to discuss the ongoing crisis of unaccompanied children being smuggled across the Texas-Mexico border.
Ahead of a scheduled fundraising stop in Austin, the president will first arrive in Dallas, where the White House has called a meeting of local elected officials and faith leaders Wednesday afternoon to address the flood of children fleeing Central America by way of human traffickers illegally crossing through the Rio Grande Valley.
"We have been working for a couple of days to set up a meeting between the President and local officials in the Dallas area to discuss the situation on the border," White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said during a press briefing Tuesday.
Among those expected to be present at the meeting are Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX 30) and Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, who last week revealed potential locations for temporarily housing some 2,000 of those children by the end of July.
After turning down what he termed a "quick handshake on the tarmac" with the president, Gov. Rick Perry (R-Texas) on Monday requested a private meeting instead. White House senior advisor Valerie Jarrett responded Monday night with a letter agreeing to a meeting and inviting the Texas governor to join the discussion in Dallas. In the letter, Jarrett also outlined actions already taken and currently being pursued by the president in response to the crisis, including requesting supplemental appropriations from Congress.
"Governor Perry is pleased that President Obama has accepted his invitation to discuss the humanitarian and national security crises along our southern border, and he looks forward to meeting with the president tomorrow," Perry spokesperson Travis Considine replied in a statement Tuesday. In addition to participating in the Dallas meeting, the Perry's office told KVUE the governor and president are expected to meet one-on-one.
Others remain displeased with the president's decision not to extend his Texas trip to include a stop near the border.
"This crisis is unfolding on the border, not in Dallas," Texas Sen. John Cornyn said during a Tuesday speech on the Senate floor, in which he produced a large map of Texas marking the route from Dallas to McAllen. Cornyn repeated his criticism to media afterward.
"To his credit, President Obama has come to Texas the last few years to help us mourn tragedies like Fort Hood and West," said Cornyn. "Which makes it all the more inexplicable that he would refuse to carve out just one hour out of his fundraising schedule the next two days in Texas to come to the border at the sight of what he calls a humanitarian crisis."
The White House has defended the president's schedule by pointing out frequent trips to the affected region by top-level administration staff, who have also participated in face-to-face diplomatic meetings with government officials from Mexico and Central America.
Go here to read the letter from the White House.