As unaccompanied children arrive at the U.S. borders in droves, the White House has formally requested $3.7 billion in emergency funds to aid in what President Obama has called a "humanitarian crisis." This figure is significantly more than the $2 billion the administration previously indicated it would ask from Congress to stem the flow of minors coming from Central America.
According to the White House, the money will go toward increased hours for border patrol agents, legal services and care for the unaccompanied children, and hiring 40 additional teams of immigration judges. NBC News reported that almost $300 million would be relegated to "repatriate and reintegrate migrants to Central America."
The GOP promised to give Obama's proposal a thorough look, but is unlikely to approve that much money spent from outside of the budget. The funding is tied to a $4.3 billion supplemental budget that includes increased funding to fight wildfires in the West.
While immigration issues have loomed over Obama's administration, this latest barrage of migrants have brought it to a fever pitch. Plagued by violence and corruption, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador are seeing a mass exodus of their children as families send them scrambling toward U.S. borders. The children travel up through Mexico and have entered the U.S. illegally, primarily in Texas, based on a misconception of U.S. immigration law that would allow unaccompanied minors to legally stay and live in the country.
When children arrive at the border without their parents, they believe they will receive permisos, which would allow them to permanently reside in the U.S. The pervasive, false rumor circulating through Central America is fueled by smuggling groups looking to scrape money from desperate families. The children lucky enough to survive the treacherous trek through Mexico are taken into the Department of Homeland Security's custody for up to 72 hours, then turned over to the Office of Refugee Resettlement which tries to find temporary sponsors or in foster care.
The children could be confusing the notices they receive to appear in immigration court to proceed with removal hearings with the permisos they were told about before migrating north. When the child appears in court, they are not provided with government-appointed attorneys to help them defend a case in front of the immigration judges.