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Tom Kertscher
By Tom Kertscher May 13, 2015

Scott Walker says Barack Obama has never been to the Texas-Mexico border as president

During a trip through the crucial presidential state of Iowa, Gov. Scott Walker did an interview on April 25, 2015 with Caffeinated Thoughts, a website that says it looks at "culture, current events, faith and politics from a Christian and conservative point of view."

When Walker was asked about his position on immigration reform, he began his answer by saying:

"Number of things. Border security for sure. Unlike this president, I’ve actually gone to the border and been there with the governor of Texas," Walker said, referring to a trip he made a month earlier.

Wait, what?

Immigration has long been a huge national issue. Barack Obama has been president for more than six years.

Is Walker right that Obama has never been to the Texas-Mexico border?

Walker’s evidence

AshLee Strong, spokeswoman for Our American Revival, the group Walker created in anticipation of a campaign for president, responded to our request for information to back Walker’s statement.

She essentially tried to modify the governor’s claim by narrowing the time frame, saying Obama "chose not to go to the border while he was in Texas in 2014 during a humanitarian crisis" at the border.

Walker, of course, made a much broader claim.

But let’s start with his evidence: a July 9, 2014 CBS News report.

On the day the report was posted online, Obama arrived in Texas for a previously planned two-day trip that was to involve talking to Texans about the economy and attending Democratic fundraisers.

At the time, there had been a surge in the number children and teens from Central America crossing the Mexico-U.S. border unaccompanied by a parent.

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Many of the youths fled drug violence at home, but faced new challenges in the United States because the border patrol system wasn’t equipped to handle them, according to news reports. Changes in policy to expand legal residence opportunities in the United States for undocumented youth may have led some families to send younger family members on the journey north.

Because of the crisis at the border,  Obama altered his plans to include a meeting, in Dallas, with then-Gov. Rick Perry and local officials to discuss the situation at the border. But Obama -- resisting calls from lawmakers in both parties -- did not visit the border, although several senior members of his administration had done so.  

More to the point of Walker’s claim, however, the news report he cited also said Obama had visited the border in May 2011.

We found that Obama visited El Paso on May 10, 2011. (Our colleagues rated as True his statement during his speech there that the Border Patrol had doubled the number of its agents since 2004.)

A Washington Post report on the speech said Obama was "standing within sight of Mexico" and that it was his his first trip to the U.S.-Mexico border as president.

That was his only visit to the border as president.

Our rating

Walker said that "unlike this president, I've actually gone to the (Texas) border."

Obama certainly hasn’t been a frequent visitor, but as president he did go to the border once, in May 2011 to give a speech on immigration reform.

We rate Walker’s statement False.

To comment on this item, go to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s web page.

More on Scott Walker

For profiles and stories on Scott Walker and 2016 presidential politics, go to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Scott Walker page.

 

Our Sources

YouTube, Caffeinated Thoughts interview (quote at 2:50) of Gov. Scott Walker, April 25, 2015

Email interview, Our American Revival spokeswoman AshLee Strong, May 11, 2015

CBS News, "Obama resists calls to visit border during Texas trip," July 9, 2014

Associated Press, "Obama responds to immigration critics in visit to Texas," July 9, 2014

PolitiFact National, "Obama says border patrol has doubled the number of agents since 2004," May 10, 2011

Washington Post, "Obama, in border visit, renews call for immigration reform," May 10, 2011

Email exchange, Federation for American Immigration reform media director Ira Mehlman, May 12, 2015

Email exchange, White House spokeswoman Kaelan Richards, May 12, 2015

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Scott Walker says Barack Obama has never been to the Texas-Mexico border as president

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