Portman: Obama Should Go Prime Time on Border Crisis

Detainees do art work under a camouflage tent at a U.S. Customs and Border Protection processing facility, on June 18, 2014, in Brownsville,Texas.

Photograph by Eric Gay-Pool/Getty Images

Detainees do art work under a camouflage tent at a U.S. Customs and Border Protection processing facility, on June 18, 2014, in Brownsville,Texas.

A Republican senator with an eye on the White House delivered some advice to President Barack Obama on how to sell his plan to combat a wave of children illegally immigrating from Central America: Tell their parents they’re not welcome.

“The president ought to make a speech,” Sen.Rob Portman, an Ohio Republican, told reporters and editors at Bloomberg News in Washington today. “He ought to make it very clear to these parents in Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and other countries that, you know, unaccompanied minors are not welcomed at the United States.”

“I know he’s been down in Texas recently,” he said. “I know he didn’t go to the border, but he make it as far as Dallas, but he ought to give a speech.  And it will be covered internationally, because one network  will cover it and everyone in the world will see it.”

Portman, who confirmed  that he might run for president in 2016, said he hasn’t decided whether to support Obama’s request for $3.7 billion in emergency funds.

A nationally and internationally televised address could give Republican lawmakers political cover to vote with Obama, who did say yesterday during a news conference that it is his goal to get Central American parents to stop sending their children to the U.S.


“It’s going to be important, even as we solve the short-term problem here, for us to be able to direct attention and resources and assistance — as we’re doing, but not at a sustained and high enough level – back in Honduras and Guatemala and El Salvador and other places, so that parents don’t think that somehow it’s safer for their children to send them thousands of miles just so that they don’t get harmed,” Obama said in Dallas yesterday.

Republicans say it’s Obama’s policies — particularly a decision not to deport certain minors who are in the country illegally — that has given an incentive to Central American youths to travel across Mexico to cross the U.S. border.

“I do think the president sent an ambivalent message out to the rest of the world about what our policies are,” Portman said.

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