President Barack Obama on Monday announced the formation of a coordination group between U.S. federal agencies to confront the humanitarian crisis created by the increase in immigrant children crossing the southern border alone.
“The influx of unaccompanied alien children across the southwest border of the United States has resulted in an urgent humanitarian situation requiring a unified and coordinated Federal response,” he said in a presidential memorandum.
The number of children who cross the border alone has increased more than 90 percent compared with last year, Cecilia Muñoz, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, told reporters.
“The great majority of these children come from Central American countries,” she said.
Obama ordered Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson “to establish an interagency Unified Coordination Group to ensure unity of effort across the executive branch in responding to the humanitarian aspects of this situation.”
As a result, Johnson tapped Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator Craig Fugate to coordinate the group of agencies, which include the Departments of Defense, State, Homeland Security and Health and Human Services.
The Obama administration forecasts that the costs of caring for migrant children from Central America could reach $2.28 billion this year, according to a report the White House Office of Management and Budget sent to Congress last Friday.
The number of children crossing the border could approach 66,000 this year, more than quadruple the number two years ago, according to unofficial estimates.