U.S. President Barack Obama plans to ask Congress for $2 billion in new funding to deal with the influx of Central American children who are crossing this country’s southern border alone, at the same time that he is seeking more authority for his administration to speed up the deportation of those minors, a White House official told Efe Sunday.
The president on Monday will send a letter to Congress informing lawmakers of his decision to request an emergency appropriation of funds and more “flexibility” to handle the arrival of migrant children, and he is expected to formally request the funds starting July 7, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Besides the funding, which will be funneled to humanitarian and security efforts linked with the arrival of the children, Obama will ask Congress to review current regulations to give more authority to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson with the aim of accelerating the deportation of the Central American kids.
“We want to work with Congress to ... provide the Department of Homeland Security with more authority to make decisions when processing the return and deportation of the unaccompanied minors from non-contiguous countries like Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador,” the White House official said.
The administration wants to ask Congress for more flexibility to “increase the penalties for those who traffic in vulnerable migrants, like children,” the official said.
U.S. law prohibits the Department of Homeland Security from deporting immigrant children immediately after their arrival in this country if their nation of origin does not share a border with the United States, and so children arriving from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador fall into this category.
The Obama administration is seeking congressional authorization to make that process more similar to that employed for children who arrive from Mexico, who can be deported more easily.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will meet on Tuesday in Panama with the leaders of the Central American countries in question, officials told Efe.