AUSTIN (AP) — Pressure on President Barack Obama to visit the Texas border is now coming from the state’s most prominent Democrat, Wendy Davis, who on Thursday echoed Republicans urging him to see firsthand the crisis of thousands of young migrants entering the U.S.
Davis, the Democratic nominee for Texas governor whose campaign has garnered nationwide support, stopped short of criticizing Obama but expressed hope he would make time.
“It’s one thing to hear the number. It’s another thing to see for yourself the people — thousands — who are coming across,” she said.
She spoke to reporters in Austin just blocks from where Obama later spoke about the economy at a downtown theater.
The White House has insisted there was little the president could learn from a border visit that he didn’t already know. Republican Texas Gov. Rick Perry, one of Obama’s harshest critics, met with the president in Dallas on Wednesday and put a border visit on a list of requests to Obama.
U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, a Texas Democrat, has also criticized Obama for skipping the border.
But Davis has visibility like no other Democrat in Texas. During her nearly 13-hour filibuster last year over new abortion restrictions in Texas that propelled her to political stardom among Democrats, Obama added his support with a tweet that read, “Something special is happening in Austin tonight.”
Davis has since been careful not to appear too aligned with Obama or his policies while trying to win in a state that hasn’t elected a Democratic governor since 1990, and where disapproval of Obama is high.
Davis, who made her own border trip in June, said she supported Obama’s $3.7 billion emergency spending request aimed at stemming the growing tide of arrivals from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. But she said it’s important to see the crisis in-person.
Obama visited Dallas for an immigration forum that was seen by the White House as a way to discuss the immigration issue while avoiding what could be a politically awkward situation on the border. Tens of thousands of unaccompanied children have arrived there in recent months, many fleeing violence in Central America, but also drawn by rumors that they can stay in the U.S. White House officials say most are unlikely to qualify for humanitarian relief and will be sent back to their home countries.
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