President Obama today is requesting $3.7 billion to cope with the humanitarian crisis on the border and the spike in illegal crossings by unaccompanied minors from Central America.
Roughly half of the funding would go to the Department of Health and Human Services to provide care for the surge of children crossing the border, including additional beds.
The rest would be split between several departments to tackle the issue on both sides of the border, including $1.6 billion to the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice to boost law enforcement at the Southwest border and pay for additional immigration judge teams, among other things, and $300 million to the State Department to tackle the root causes of this crisis and to send a clear message to these countries not to send children illegally to the U.S.
Today’s funding request is separate from policy changes that the administration is also seeking to speed up the deportation of the children, most of whom are from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. The White House sent a letter to Congressional leadership last week requesting the legal changes to make it easier to send them home.
According to a White House official, greater administrative authority as well as the additional resources will help make it more efficient and expeditious to process and return the children.
What remains unclear is how much faster this additional funding would make the process to send children back to their home countries. White House officials today declined to speculate on such timing, but the administration has said that most of the unaccompanied minors will likely be “sent home.”
“Based on what we know about these cases, it is unlikely that most of these kids will qualify for humanitarian relief. And what that means is it means that they will not have a legal basis for remaining in this country and will be returned,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Monday.
The White House has yet to say how many of the roughly 52,000 children that have been apprehended this year have been sent back to Central America. Today, officials offered only the total figure, including adults. So far this year, Immigration and Customs Enforcement has removed almost 233,000, that includes over 87,000 to Central American countries.
Here’s a detailed look at some of the ways the president wants to spend $3.7 billion to deal with the influx of unaccompanied minors, according to the White House.
To pay for operational costs of responding to the significant rise in apprehensions of unaccompanied children and families, including overtime and temporary duty costs for Border Patrol agents, contract services and facility costs to care for children while in CBP custody, and medical and transportation service arrangement.
To increase air surveillance capabilities that would support 16,526 additional flight hours for border surveillance and 16 additional crews for unmanned aerial systems to improve detection and interdiction of illegal activity.
To provide for immigration and customs enforcement efforts, including expanding the Border Enforcement Security Task Force program, doubling the size of vetted units in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, and expanding investigatory activities by ICE Homeland Security Investigations.
To pay for detention and removal of apprehended undocumented adults traveling with children, expansion of alternatives to detention programs for these individuals, and additional prosecution capacity for adults with children who cross the border unlawfully.
To hire approximately 40 additional immigration judge teams, including those anticipated to be hired on a temporary basis. This funding would also expand courtroom capacity including additional video conferencing and other equipment in support of the additional immigration judge teams. These additional resources, when combined with the FY 2015 Budget request for 35 additional teams, would provide sufficient capacity to process an additional 55,000 to 75,000 cases annually.