The Obama administration said it would boost the ranks of
immigration judges, lawyers and asylum officers to quickly decide
what happens to people apprehended at the border and to return them
to their home countries.
"We are surging resources to increase our capacity to detain
individuals and adults with children, and to handle immigration
court hearings," Homeland Security Deputy Director Alejandro
Mayorkas told reporters.
"This will allow Immigration and Customs Enforcement - or ICE - to
return unlawful migrants from Central America who are ordered
removed to their home countries more quickly," he said.
Officials further announced $9.6 million in additional support to El
Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras to help them receive and
reintegrate people who are sent back.
In an effort to address the causes of flight from Central America,
the administration said it would launch a $40 million program to
improve security in Guatemala and a $25 million program to provide
services to youth in El Salvador who are vulnerable to organized
Washington has scrambled to address a flood of children arriving
illegally at the border causing President Barack Obama has called an
urgent humanitarian crisis. The president took the issue up on
Thursday with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, while Vice
President Joe Biden was in Guatemala on Friday to discuss the
problem with Central American leaders.
"You’re clearly not going to send a child back to a circumstance
where there is no one there for them," Biden said. "But we do
intend, and everyone agreed, it is necessary to put them back in the
hands of a parent in the country from which they came."
Cecilia Munoz, the White House domestic policy director, said that
some of Friday's measures were designed to help Central American
countries stem the migration.
[to top of second column]
Efforts aim to "deal with the misinformation that is being
deliberately planted by criminal organizations, by smuggling
networks, about what people can expect when they come to the United
States," she told reporters.
From October to June 15, 52,000 unaccompanied children arrived on
the U.S. border with Mexico, Mayorkas said. DHS is looking for more
facilities to house the minors, he said.
Republicans blame the influx of children on Obama's 2012 decision to
give temporary relief from deportation to some young people brought
to the United States illegally by their parents.
House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner urged Obama on Friday
to deploy the National Guard to handle the children and relieve the
taxed Border Patrol. The White House's Earnest rejected that idea,
saying there are already "significant enforcement resources"
deployed along the border.
Democratic Congressman Luis V. Gutiérrez further criticized the
National Guard idea as "a naïve and aggressive knee-jerk reaction
that is completely inappropriate in these circumstances."
(Additional reporting by Doina Chiacu, Roberta Rampton and Patricia
Zengerle; Editing by Doina Chiacu, Jonathan Oatis and Bernard Orr)
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