Many Obama critics have also not been to the border recently


President Obama speaks at the Paramount Theatre in Austin on July 10. The president also visited Dallas, but he chose not to go to the Mexico border, despite many in Congress urging him to do so. (Jack Plunkett/AP)

The surge in migrant children trying to cross into the United States at the southern border has led to sustained Republican criticism of President Obama for not visiting the site of the crisis. But many of those critics have themselves not been to the border in the past few months, a survey conducted by The Washington Post reveals.

Since the number of unaccompanied children arriving from Central America surged in May, many members of Congress in both parties have argued the president has mishandled the situation and should witness the crisis first hand.

Two of the most vocal critics, House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), have not visited in the last two months. Cruz’s office noted that the senator toured an air force base in San Antonio last month where many of the children are being held, and will be on a trip this Friday to the Rio Grande Valley. Among Democrats, House Democratic Whip Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said it “wouldn’t hurt” Obama to visit the border, but he has not been either.

Members of the congressional leadership who have not been to the border include chair of the House Republican Conference, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), and Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wy0.), chair of the Republican Policy Committee Chair.

Obama visited Texas last week and declined to go to the border, stating he was “not interested in photo ops” but “interested in solving the problem.”

Many Republican members of Congress from Texas have explicitly hit out at the president for avoiding the border — including Reps. Kenny Marchant, Joe Barton and Jeb Hensarling — even as they themselves have not visited, at least until now.

The Texas delegation is scheduled to visit to the Rio Grande Valley on Friday on a trip led by Rep. Sam Johnson (R-Tex.), to examine the crisis first hand. Other members who have not been since May are planning trips during the August recess. “There’s no way to fully grasp the scope and depth of the crisis through a simple briefing in Washington,”  Johnson said in a statement.

The majority of members on the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, who has jurisdiction over the agencies dealing with the border crisis, have not visited the border since the crisis developed in May. The committee’s chairman Sen. Thomas Carper (D-Del.), who has supportive of the president, has not been to the border since May but visited Guatemala and Mexico in April. Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) urged the president to go to the border last week. Along with Ron Johnson, committee member Sen. Michael Enzi (R-Wyo.) has criticized Obama's decision not to visit the border but hasn't gone himself.

Among members on the House Homeland Security Committee, Rep. Richard Hudson (R-N.C.) wants to build a fence across the entire southern border, Reps. Peter T. King (R-N.Y.) and Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) have criticized Obama over his handling of the situation. None of them have been to the border in the last two months. A person close to the committee says that a trip was organized for members of House Homeland Security Committee on July 3, with an invitation to all committee members, but some declined due to prior commitments over the holiday weekend. Half of the committee, plus other representatives, visited the border patrol station in McAllen, Tex.

Sebastian Payne is a national reporter with The Washington Post. He is the Post’s 35th Laurence Stern fellow.
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