Immigration: Obama Seeks $3.7bn Amid Crisis
Barack Obama has asked Congress for $3.7bn to combat the influx of immigrants, including tens of thousands of unaccompanied children massing at the US border.The Health and Human Services Department would receive $1.8bn to provide care for the children, the White House said.
Another $1.1bn is earmarked to help the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) deport undocumented adults illegally crossing the border with children.
The White House said the money would also help increase the capacity of immigration courts and increase prosecution of smuggling networks.
More than $430m is intended to boost border security, including additional spending on airborne surveillance and other expanded border patrol programmes.
The president has been forced to tackle immigration in recent weeks as US border officials become increasingly overwhelmed by a growing number of immigrants from Central America.
More than 174,000 immigrants, mostly from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, have been arrested in Texas this year. An estimated 52,000 of those have been unaccompanied children.
Mr Obama signalled last week that he would take administrative steps to bypass Congress on advancing immigration reform after top House Republicans said they would continue to block a vote on a bill already passed by the Democrat-controlled Senate.
The president is expected to travel to Texas on Wednesday to meet with Republican Governor Rick Perry to discuss the mounting crisis.
Mr Perry has called on the federal government to do more to secure the US border.
A spokeswoman from the governor’s office said he “is pleased that President Obama has accepted his invitation to discuss the humanitarian and national security crisis along our southern border”.
Congressional Republicans have blamed Mr Obama for the crisis.
House Speaker John Boehner said the president’s executive orders give “false hope to children and their families that if they enter the country illegally they will be allowed to stay”.
The sudden spike in immigrants has prompted Homeland Security officials to start sending families to other southwestern states for processing.
Most are freed under limited supervision pending deportation proceedings, though critics say they seldom report back to the authorities once released.
The practice sparked protests, with anti-immigration demonstrators recently attempting to block busloads of immigrants being transported to a town in southern California.