News

Obama says money low to deal with immigrant crisis

Obama says money low to deal with immigrant crisis

BORDER BATTLE: President Barack Obama speaks on the economy at the Paramount Theatre in Austin, Texas, Thursday, July 10. President Obama ridiculed congressional Republicans on Thursday, accusing them of doing little more than opposing his agenda in a campaign-style rally with less than four months remaining before midterm elections. Photo: Reuters/ Kye R. Lee

By Richard Cowan and Julia Edwards

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Obama administration warned lawmakers on Thursday that U.S. border control agencies would run out of money and migrant children would run out of beds if Congress did not approve $3.7 billion in funds to address an influx of people from Central America.

Days after the White House put forward its request for emergency funding to address the humanitarian crisis at the southwest U.S. border, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson pressed the need for lawmakers to approve the request.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Customs and Border Protection would run out of funds by mid-August and mid-September, respectively, without the emergency cash, he said at a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on the request.

Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell said her department would run out of beds in temporary housing facilities if the number of unaccompanied children crossing the border continued into August at the same rate seen in May and June.

More children would be held in detention centers or “holding pens” at the border for long periods of time, she said at the same hearing.

The warnings from the officials came as support appeared to be growing for legislation that would make it easier for the Obama administration to deport thousands of Central American children who have migrated illegally.

House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner expressed support for changes to immigration law that would let the United States deport children from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador as quickly as it does those from Mexico.

U.S. law allows Mexican minors to be sent back promptly, although there are some steps those children can take to try to remain in the United States. A 2008 victims trafficking law requires that children from countries not bordering the United States, including those in Central America, be given added legal protections before they are deported.

Regarding children from those countries, Boehner told reporters, “I think clearly we would probably want the language similar to what we have with Mexico.”

NEEDED FUNDS

In a letter to congressional leaders last week, President Barack Obama proposed giving the Department of Homeland Security additional authority to process the return and removal of unaccompanied children from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

Obama, battling political pressure to halt the influx of child migrants along the Texas border with Mexico, asked Congress for the emergency funds earlier this week.

Many Democrats and immigration advocacy groups have strongly opposed changing the trafficking law, but congressional leaders indicated they might not block such legislation if it is tacked onto the spending bill. House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said on Thursday she would prefer the law be changed to give Mexican children the same protections as those from Central America. However, she said the issue should not stand in the way of quickly getting Obama the emergency funds he is seeking. Harry Reid, leader of the Democratic-controlled Senate, said he would not block an amendment to change the 2008 trafficking law, but would have to see what comes to the floor.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat from California, said the administration could use a clause in the law that allows for exceptions under special circumstances to speed up the deportations without changing the law itself. More than 52,000 unaccompanied minors from the three countries have been caught trying to sneak over the border since October, double the number from the same period a year earlier. Both Democrats and Republicans have been pressing for changes to address the child migrant issue, but the money is not guaranteed.

“We’re not giving the president a blank check,” said Boehner, leader of the Republican-controlled House.

Boehner said the House should act on some sort of immigration legislation this month. He has formed a working group of lawmakers to study options.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest, traveling with Obama in Texas, said the president was willing to negotiate on his request but noted it reflected the priorities Republicans have identified, including more immigration judges and additional border resources.

(Additional reporting by Doina Chiacu, Susan Cornwell, Emily Stephenson and Steve Holland)

Recent Headlines

in Local Sports

Prep football week 9 scoreboard

Fresh
high school football scoreboard dl

All the scores from around the Northwest Conference.

in Sports

NCAA denies Georgia’s appeal of Gurley suspension

Fresh
Georgia running back Todd Gurley (3) celebrates with linebacker Amarlo Herrera (52) after an NCAA college football game against Tennessee Saturday, Sept. 27, 2014, in Athens, Ga. Georgia won 35-32.

The NCAA has upheld its four-game suspension of Georgia tailback Todd Gurley.

in Sports

Knicks spoil James’ homecoming

Fresh
Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James (23) brings the ball up against Maccabi Tel Aviv in the second quarter of a preseason exhibition basketball game Sunday, Oct. 5, 2014, in Cleveland.

The New York Knicks ruined the megastar's emotional homecoming with a 95-90 victory over the Cavaliers on Thursday night.

in Sports

Winston, Florida State rally to beat Louisville

Fresh
Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston (5) signs autographs after an NCAA college football game against Syracuse on Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013 in Tallahassee, Fla. Florida State beat Syracuse 59-3.

Dalvin Cook had two long scoring runs to help second-ranked Florida State rally for a 42-31 victory over Louisville on Thursday night.

in Local Sports

Sounders to face F.C. Dallas in conference semi-finals

Fresh
FC Dallas's Michel celebrates as he jogs to midfield after scoring on a penalty kick against the Vancouver Whitecaps in the second half of an MLS playoff soccer match, Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014, in Frisco, Texas. FC Dallas won 2-1.

The Sounders went 2-1 against Dallas in the regular season.