President Obama will seek $3.7 billion in emergency funds from Congress to meet the country's “moral obligation” to care for unaccompanied minors who have flooded in recent months to the southwestern border, White House officials said Tuesday.
Nearly half the money would go to the Department of Health and Human Services for food, housing and medical care for the tens of thousands of children and teenagers who have arrived at the border, senior administration officials told reporters.
The rest of the money would be aimed at deterring further migrants by strengthening law enforcement, going after smuggling networks that ferry people from Central America and expanding the number of deportation hearings.
The spending plan, nearly double the $2 billion the White House initially said was the minimum amount it would seek, is certain to raise concern among budget hawks in Congress.
The request reflects the president’s dilemma in responding to the estimated 52,000 children who have crossed the border since October, many of them reporting that they’re fleeing violence in their home countries of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.
Obama has called the border situation a humanitarian crisis and is under pressure from advocates for immigrants to treat the arriving children humanely. At the same time, White House officials say they need to quickly find a way to stop the flood of new arrivals and send a message to families in Central America that the migrants are not welcome and will be returned to their home countries.
Advisors to the president are mindful of both tasks -- and of the varying constituencies paying close attention.
Read more at the LA Times site.