White House spokesman Josh Earnest said most of the
border-crossers would not qualify to stay in the United States.
Those who possibly could get asylum are children who have been
victims of domestic abuse. Minors who fled because of gang-related
violence could have a harder time qualifying, according to
The strong warning came as the White House is expected to lay out on
Tuesday what it wants in emergency funding from the U.S. Congress to
deal with the flood of children.
The money would go toward more detention facilities to house the
children and additional immigration judges and asylum officials to
expedite hearings. A Justice Department official told Reuters the
aim is to hire 30 more immigration judges to help tackle the case
The spending bill could face some rough going in Congress, however.
Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama, the senior Republican on the
Senate Appropriations Committee, told reporters any measure should
be paid for with cuts to other government programs.
"Absolutely it ought to be offset," Shelby said, adding that money
could be taken from Obama's landmark healthcare law, a move that
likely would be opposed by the White House and congressional
More than 52,000 unaccompanied minors from Guatemala, El Salvador
and Honduras have been caught trying to sneak over the U.S.-Mexico
border since October, double the number from the same period the
year before. Thousands more have been apprehended with parents or
Many are fleeing extreme poverty, gangs and drug violence, as well
as responding to rumors spread by smugglers that children who reach
the U.S. border will be allowed to stay.
Ana Garcia, the wife of Honduran President Juan Hernandez, on Monday
said that U.S. officials had told her that they would begin sending
flights of deported families back to Central America next Monday.
The U.S. administration also plans to ask Congress to alter a 2008
law on human trafficking to speed up deportations. Some of President
Barack Obama's Latino allies oppose this because they see the
children as victims.
[to top of second column]
Obama is due to visit Texas this week to raise money for Democratic
candidates running in November congressional elections, but the
White House said he would not visit the border, a sign that
officials do not see a political upside.
While White House officials anticipate some Republican criticism
over the request, one senior House Republican aide, who asked not to
be identified, said the measure could attract less opposition than
some previous appeals.
"There is a feeling that it's clear more resources are needed" to
deal with as many as 150,000 unaccompanied minors, who could arrive
during the current fiscal year, the aide said.
A senior Senate Republican aide, however, said party support for an
emergency spending bill would not be known until senators see
The House and Senate can alter Obama's request before sending him
any legislation to be signed into law.
(Additional reporting by Richard Cowan in WASHINGTON and Gustavo
Palencia in TEGUCIGALPA; Editing by Lisa Shumaker, Andre Grenon and
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