(CNSNews.com) - Skipping a visit to the overwhelmed Southwest border during a fund-raising trek to Texas on Wednesday could be President Obama's "Katrina moment," Rep. Henry Cuellar, a Texas Democrat, suggested earlier this week.
But on Wednesday morning, a top Obama aide said there's no comparing Obama's decision to bypass the Texas border with President Bush's decision to view hurricane-devastated New Orleans from the air -- a move for which Bush was heavily criticized.
"It doesn't make sense to compare this to a natural disaster," Cecilia Muñoz, director of Obama's Domestic Policy Council, told MSNBC's "Morning Joe."
"This is a humanitarian situation that we have been on top of from the very beginning," she insisted, as she described how the effort to deal with the influx of illegal immigrants involves "the entire federal government" as well as "our partners in Central America."
Pressed on the issue, Muñoz said, "The president's instructions to his team and his own efforts have been to stay focused on what's going to be most impactful on dealing with the urgent humanitarian situation." She also noted that he's meeting Wednesday with "community leaders" in Texas, "who are actively engaged in the situation and trying to be part of the solution here."
"Look there's people trying to turn this situation into a political football. I understand that, I work in Washington. The president's going to stay focused on what works here."
Muñoz, speaking quickly and rebuffing interruptions, listed everything the Obama administration has done to deal with the border crisis, which she was careful to call a "humanitarian situation," not a "humanitarian crisis," as Obama himself has described it.
She blamed the uptick in illegal immigration from Central America on smugglers spreading "deliberate misinformation," and none of the liberal "Morning Joe" hosts challenged her on that point.
"From the moment it became clear in May that the numbers this year were going to be very, very different from previous years, the president called out the entire federal government to respond. He asked FEMA to coordinate, so we've engaged DHS, HHS, the Department of Justice, the Department of Defense to help us open shelters for the kids. To surge our resources at the border -- to make sure that we are both doing right by the process for new entrants, but also being effective in removing the folks who are ultimately not be allowed to stay in the United States..."
"This is a dangerous situation for kids. It's really important that we think of it from that perspective," she said.