WASHINGTON – The White House on Friday announced tens of millions of dollars of new funding and expanded enforcement facilities to step up efforts to deal with the surge of children arriving illegally from Central America.
The United States said it will launch a $40 million program to improve security in Guatemala to reduce pressures forcing flight to the United States and a $25 million program to provide services to youths in El Salvador who are vulnerable to organized crime pressure, the White House said in a statement.
The Obama administration also said it would provide a “surge” in immigration judges, lawyers and asylum officers to quickly decide what happens to people apprehended at the border.
Washington has mobilized to address a flood of children arriving illegally at the southwest border in what President Barack Obama has called an urgent humanitarian crisis. The president spoke about the problem Thursday with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, and Vice President Joe Biden was in Guatemala on Friday to discuss the issue with Central American leaders.
“The administration remains greatly concerned by the rise in unaccompanied children from Central America,” the White House said in a statement.
Cecilia Munoz, the White House domestic policy director, said in a conference call that Friday’s measures were designed to help Central American countries stem the migration.
They also aim to “deal with the misinformation that is being deliberately planted by criminal organizations, by smuggling networks, about what people can expect when they come to the United States,” she told reporters.