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President Barack Obama on Wednesday said he is not visiting the U.S. border while in Texas because he is “not interested in photo-ops” and urged Congress to approve funding to deal with the surge of minors illegally streaming into the country.

“There is nothing that is taking place down there that I am not intimately aware of and briefed on,” Obama said. “This isn’t theater, this is a problem. I’m not interested in photo ops.”

Obama met with local politicians and religious leaders in Dallas, including Texas Gov. Rick Perry, to discuss the influx of unaccompanied minors crossing the U.S. border. The White House has asked for $3.7 billion to deal with the crisis, a request that has been panned by some Republicans who say the president’s policies are to blame for migrant children believing they can stay in the country illegally.

The president has been criticized for going to Texas to fundraise but not visiting the border, where officials say 57,000 unaccompanied minors have been picked up since October. The White House has rebuffed the criticism, saying other administration officials have been sent to survey the Rio Grande Valley and the president is closely monitoring the situation.

Obama said Perry, who has been one of the president’s chief critics on the issue of immigration, had suggestions he was “not philosophically opposed to” and even urged the president to act on his own without approval from Congress.

“He suggested maybe you just need to go ahead and act and that might convince Republicans that they should go ahead and pass the supplemental,” Obama said. “And I had to remind him I am getting sued right now by Mr. Boehner, apparently, for going ahead and acting instead of going through Congress.”

Obama said he would consider deploying national guard to the border, but said a permanent solution can only occur when Congress passes immigration reform.



-- Andrew Rafferty