Obama will make the request for emergency funding in a letter on
Monday, asking Congress to act when it returns from a holiday recess
on July 7, a White House official said on Sunday.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will travel to Central America
this week for a visit that will include the inauguration of Panama's
new president on July 1 and that is expected to include meetings on
the crisis with Central American leaders.
In addition, Obama will seek greater authority for U.S. immigration
officials to speed up the deportation of children caught crossing
from countries such as Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, the
The request will mark a major step in Obama's attempt to gain
control of a chaotic scene on the U.S. border with Mexico where tens
of thousands of children have crossed without their parents,
straining resources and creating a political and humanitarian
Obama will ask Congress to increase penalties for the so-called
"coyotes" who smuggle children across the border and profit from it.
The official said Obama will also request a "sustained border
security surge through enhanced domestic enforcement," along with an
increase in immigration judges to more speedily adjudicate the cases
of recent border crossers.
Obama will step up efforts with Central American countries to
repatriate migrants who are returned to their home countries and
address the root causes of migration. And, the official said, he
will seek "the resources necessary to appropriately detain, process
and care for children and adults."
Kerry will travel to Panama - which has seen an increase in asylum
requests from neighboring countries - for the inauguration of
President-elect Juan Carlos Varela. The Spanish EFE news agency
reported that Kerry will meet there on Tuesday with the leaders of
El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala about the crisis.
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State Department officials declined to confirm details of Kerry's
agenda. His meetings would follow a visit on June 20 by Vice
President Joe Biden to Guatemala City during which Central American
presidents pressed for Washington to improve migrant rights.
In an ABC interview last week Obama urged Central American parents
not to let their children leave on a frequently hazardous trip to
the United States, but his words have so far had little impact as
more than 52,000 children have crossed the border since last
Congressional Republicans have expressed outrage at the Obama
administration's handling of the crisis, accusing the government of
letting the children into the country to pile pressure on Congress
to approve a long-stalled immigration overhaul.
(Additional reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Jim Loney and
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