Pena Nieto discuss U.S. influx of Central American minors
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[June 20, 2014]
By Mark Felsenthal
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack
Obama spoke on Thursday with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto about
a strategy to deal with a flood of children coming from Central America
to the United States, the White House said.
Obama "welcomed the opportunity to work in close cooperation with
Mexico to develop concrete proposals to address the root causes of
unlawful migration from Central America," the White House said.
Responding to what Obama calls an urgent humanitarian crisis,
Congress advanced legislation on Tuesday significantly increasing
funds to handle a surge of foreign children entering the United
Democratic Senator Barbara Mikulski, who chairs the Senate
Appropriations Committee, included up to $2.28 billion for the
Department of Health and Human Services to feed and shelter the
estimated 130,000 minors expected to arrive in the coming year.
Vice President Joe Biden added a stop in Guatemala on Friday to a
scheduled Latin America trip to meet Central American leaders for
talks on the dilemma.
Between October and May, more than 47,000 unaccompanied minors,
mostly from Central America, crossed into the United States, nearly
double the number in the previous 12 months, U.S. Homeland Security
Secretary Jeh Johnson said last week.
Johnson and senior officials from various U.S. agencies will travel
to Texas on Friday to view the government's response to the influx
of children, the Homeland Security Department said in a statement.
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Obama told Pena Nieto that the United States and Mexico could work
together to return children safely to their families, and noted that
the children, many of whom are unaccompanied, were vulnerable to
crime and abuse.
Obama repeated his position that arriving migrants would not be
eligible for legalization under proposed immigration reform
legislation or deferred action for childhood rules.
(Reporting by Mark Felsenthal and Roberta Rampton; Additional
reporting by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Ken Wills and Peter Cooney)
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