- The Washington Times - Friday, August 22, 2014

While traveling in Guatemala to perform pro-bono eye surgeries, Sen. Rand Paul, Kentucky Republican, blasted President Obama for failing to secure the border and called upon the Senate to bring the House-passed immigration reform bill to a vote.

In a closed-door meeting with Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina on Wednesday, Mr. Paul said that the main problem behind the continuing crisis at the border lies in the White House.

“I told him, frankly, that I didn’t think the problem was in Guatemala City, but that the problem was in the White House in our country, and that the mess we’ve got at the border is frankly because of the White House’s policies,” Mr. Paul said in an interview with Breitbart.com.

Mr. Paul said he supported the House bill to end Mr. Obama’s deportation relief program for Dreamers and said the legislation would “go a long way to fixing the problem.”

“But like everything else, nothing good has happened because Sen. [Harry] Reid has decided that he’s not going to allow any votes on any bills this year because he’s protecting his members who are vulnerable in the election — he’s protecting them from any kinds of votes,” Mr. Paul said.

The potential contender for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination, condemned Mr. Obama for not doing enough to secure the border, and said without a real solution at the border, there can be no reform.

“It comes from the president basically offering unilaterally, without congressional approval, beacons or magnets without securing the border,” Mr. Paul told Breibart.com.

“He seems to be doing this again because he doesn’t have what it takes to get Congress to pass legislation,” he said. “So it all starts, as many conservatives say, you can’t have immigration reform without first having a secure border. But I think what’s happened at the border is all squarely at the president’s lap. The problem and the solution aren’t in Guatemala. The problem and solution reside inside the White House.”

Mr. Paul, a former ophthalmologist, has been performing sight-restoring eye surgeries in the rural Guatemalan town of Salama over the past week.

Democrats shot back at Mr. Paul, calling his trip to Guatemala a campaign farce.

“While everyone should commend Paul for his aid work, it’s unfortunate he turned a trip organized by a well-respected eye center into a crass campaign photo op,” Michael Czin, national press secretary for the Democratic National Committee, wrote in a memo.

Mr. Czin blasted Mr. Paul for condemning the president in the presence of a foreign leader, saying, “Regardless of political party, we do not go abroad and slam our own because of policy differences. We are better than that.”

In the memo, Mr. Czin pointed out that Mr. Paul voted against Democratic immigration reform legislation and opposed an emergency supplemental package to address the border crisis.

“America deserves better from our elected officials — especially those who want to seek the highest office in the land,” Mr. Czin wrote.

• Kellan Howell can be reached at khowell@washingtontimes.com.

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