America leaders to ask Obama for plan to stem child exodus
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[July 21, 2014]
TEGUCIGALPA (Reuters) - Central
American leaders will ask U.S. President Barack Obama to support a
regional development and security plan to stem the tide of illegal child
migrants to the United States at a meeting next week, a Honduran
minister said on Saturday.
Presidents of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras will meet with
Obama on Friday to look for ways to curb a record-breaking exodus of
Central American children, fleeing to the United States to escape
violence and poverty.
Since October, more than 57,000 unaccompanied children have been
detained at the U.S.-Mexico border, most of them from Central
America, and double last year's count.
The surge in migration has sparked an intense debate over how to
solve the problem.
"We need support for successful reintegration into work and schools
and to keep track of these individuals and families so they don't
try again to immigrate to the United States," Honduran Foreign
Minister Mireya Aguero told local radio.
Aguero said she hopes the regional security initiative, which is
supported by Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez, Guatemala's
Otto Perez and El Salvador's Salvador Sanchez Ceren, will be secured
at the July 25 meeting.
The plan would be accompanied by an effort to better control borders
and dismantle networks of coyotes who charge thousands of dollars to
smuggle Central American migrants even if they are turned back at
the U.S. border.
Last week, the United States flew home dozens of Central American
children, after Obama pledged to speed up the deportation process.
Obama has asked lawmakers for $3.7 billion to pay for more border
security, temporary detention centers and additional immigration
court judges to process asylum cases and speed up deportations.
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Central America has seen a wave of violence as Mexican drug cartels
have battled for drug routes and extortion rackets through the
Thousands of Central American migrants have been streaming into the
United States through Mexico, and those caught are being held in
overcrowded detention facilities.
Honduran President Hernandez on Thursday said Washington should help
the region fight gangs with a plan similar to U.S. anti-drug
programs in Colombia and Mexico.
(Reporting By Gustavo Palencia, Writing by Alexandra Alper,; Editing
by Rosalind Russell)
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