President Obama moved forward with his $3.7 billion request to Congress Tuesday, in hopes of addressing the influx of Central American children crossing the Southwest border.
Since October, as many as 52,000 children — from Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, or Mexico — have made the trek to the Southwest border with intentions of entering the U.S. Officials say many of these children, who are often unaccompanied by parents, are seeking to escape poverty, gang violence and domestic abuse, and hoping to connect with family members in the U.S.
When these children are detained at the border, the law requires the Department of Health and Human Services to take them into custody within 72 hours. From there, they are sent to temporary shelters across the country while authorities search for foster homes to house the children while their proceedings are pending.
President Obama's request, which was in the works for several weeks, was drafted to help speed up the deportation proceeding process, which can take years in some cases. USA Today reported that the request would allocate $1.8 billion to the Department of Health and Human Services to provide better housing for detained children and their parents, and $1.6 billion to the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice to improve security measures at the border. The funding will also help expedite deportation proceedings by providing more judges, asylum officers, and U.S. attorneys to hear the cases. Another $300 million will go to the State Department to work with countries in Central America to develop security.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Monday that the majority of the young children will probably be sent back to their countries, but that they will be evaluated on a “case by case basis.”