WASHINGTON — The White House said Monday that most unaccompanied minors flooding into the United States from Central America will not be allowed to stay, as the Obama administration prepares to ask Congress for $2 billion to address the border crisis.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said most of the border-crossers would not qualify to remain in this country. Those who possibly could get U.S. asylum are children who have been victims of domestic abuse. Minors who fled because of gang-related violence could have a harder time qualifying, according to immigration experts.
The strong warning came as the White House is expected today to lay out what it wants in emergency funding from the U.S. Congress to deal with the flood of children. The money would go toward more detention facilities to house the children and additional immigration judges and asylum officials to expedite hearings. A Justice Department official said the aim is to hire 30 more immigration judges to help tackle the case load.
The spending bill could face some rough going in Congress, however. Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby, senior Republican on the Appropriations Committee, told reporters that any measure should be paid for with cuts to other government programs. “Absolutely, it ought to be offset,” he said, adding that money could be taken from the funding for President Barack Obama's landmark health care law, a move that likely would be opposed by the White House and congressional Democrats.
More than 52,000 unaccompanied minors from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras have been caught trying to sneak over the U.S.-Mexico border since October, double the number from the same period the year before. Thousands more have been apprehended with parents or other adults. Many are fleeing extreme poverty, gangs and drug violence, as well as responding to rumors spread by smugglers that children who reach the U.S. border will be allowed to stay.
Separately, the administration plans to ask Congress to alter a 2008 law on human trafficking to speed up deportations. Some of Mr. Obama's Latino allies oppose this because they see the children as victims.
Mr. Obama is due to visit Texas this week to raise money for Democratic candidates running in November congressional elections, but the White House said he would not visit the border — a sign that officials do not see a political upside.
While White House officials anticipate some Republican criticism over the request, one senior House GOP aide, who asked not to be identified, said the measure could attract less opposition than some previous appeals.?