WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama will ask Congress on Monday for emergency funds, possibly more than $2 billion, as the United States grapples with a surge of undocumented children and adults crossing the border from Mexico.
A White House official told CNN the money will go to securing appropriate space for the detention of children but also stemming the tide of immigrants. The government hopes to increase its ability to investigate and dismantle smuggling organizations as well as quickly return children and adults to their home countries if they do not qualify for asylum.
The federal government has struggled to process and accommodate the influx of illegal human traffic but specifically the spike in children. They don’t have enough beds, food or sanitary facilities.
U.S. authorities estimate that between 60,000 to 80,000 children without parents will cross the border this year in what the White House is calling an “immediate humanitarian crisis.”
Earlier in June, the White House announced a plan to spend millions in a government-wide response by sending aide to governments in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador to help with crime and violence prevention.
In mid-June, Vice President Joe Biden also spoke with leaders in the three countries as well as Mexico about working together to promote security.
Biden’s objective was to emphasize that adults arriving with their children in the United States don’t meet the requirements for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which defers deportation for children brought to the United States before June 15, 2012.
Obama also spoke with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto about the issue and has warned families who see the dangerous trip as the best option for their children.
“Do not send your children to the borders. If they do make it, they’ll get sent back. More importantly, they may not make it,” Obama said to ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos.
The White House will also ask Congress to ensure that the administration has the authority it deems necessary to effectively use these funds. That includes expanded authority for Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson in processing the return and removal of unaccompanied minor children and increased penalties for individuals who smuggle minors across the border.