Obama seeks cash for mi­grant flood

Taranaki Daily News - - World -

Wash­ing­ton – Pres­i­dent Barack Obama will seek more than US$2 bil­lion (NZ$2.28b) to re­spond to the flood of im­mi­grants il­le­gally en­ter­ing the US through the Rio Grande Val­ley area of Texas and ask for new pow­ers to deal with re­turn­ing im­mi­grant chil­dren ap­pre­hended while trav­el­ling with­out their par­ents, a White House of­fi­cial said.

With Obama look­ing to Congress for help with what he has called an ‘‘ur­gent hu­man­i­tar­ian sit­u­a­tion’’, House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Mi­nor­ity Leader Nancy Pelosi vis­ited a Bor­der Pa­trol fa­cil­ity in Texas that held un­ac­com­pa­nied chil­dren. More than 52,000 un­ac­com­pa­nied chil­dren, most from Cen­tral Amer­ica, have been ap­pre­hended en­ter­ing the US il­le­gally since Oc­to­ber.

‘‘The fact is these are chil­dren – chil­dren and fam­i­lies,’’ Pelosi said. ‘‘We have a moral re­spon­si­bil­ity to ad­dress this in a dig­ni­fied way.’’

Obama plans to make the re­quests of Congress in a let­ter to be sent to­mor­row, the White House of­fi­cial said. De­tails of the emer­gency ap­pro­pri­a­tion, in­clud­ing the ex­act amount and how it will be spent, will come af­ter law­mak­ers re­turn from their hol­i­day re­cess on July 7, said the of­fi­cial, who was not au­tho­rised to speak by name and dis­cussed the re­quests on con­di­tion of anonymity.

Obama will also ask that the Depart­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity be granted author­ity to ap­ply ‘‘fast track’’ pro­ce­dures to the screen­ing and de­por­ta­tion of all im­mi­grant chil­dren trav­el­ling with­out their par­ents and that stricter penal­ties for those who smug­gle chil­dren across the bor­der, the of­fi­cial said.

Pelosi said she holds lit­tle hope that Congress will pass com­pre­hen­sive im­mi­gra­tion re­form this year but that pol­i­tics should be set aside. She did not elab­o­rate on what had damp­ened her op­ti­mism in this midterm elec­tion year. Speaker of the House John Boehner’s of­fice did not im­me­di­ately re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment.

The Bor­der Pa­trol in south Texas has been overwhelmed for sev­eral months by an in­flux of un­ac­com­pa­nied chil­dren and par­ents trav­el­ling with young chil­dren from Hon­duras, Gu­atemala and El Sal­vador. Un­like Mex­i­can im­mi­grants ar­rested af­ter en­ter­ing the US il­le­gally, those from Cen­tral Amer­ica can­not be as eas­ily re­turned to their coun­tries.

Photo: REUTERS

Help­ing hand: Pres­i­dent Barack Obama says the flood of il­le­gal im­mi­grants through the Rio Grande Val­ley area is an ‘‘ur­gent hu­man­i­tar­ian sit­u­a­tion.’’

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