POSTED: Tuesday, July 8, 2014 - 4:03pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, July 9, 2014 - 7:49am
HIDALGO COUNTY, TEXAS (KVEO NEWSCENTER 23) — President Barack Obama is asking Congress for nearly $4 billion to address the immigrant influx occurring in the Rio Grande Valley.
The White House is calling the situation a humanitarian crisis. The administration wants the $3.7 billion to help detain the immigrants crossing the border, pursue the coyotes bringing them here and work with other countries to convince their citizens not to leave.
"It's good that the President is stepping back from asking Congress to change the law and to deport these young people without an immigration hearing," said John-Michael Torres of La Union del Pueblo Entero. "That's a positive development."
A portion of the funds will go to repaying federal, state and local law enforcement agencies for dealing with the surge of undocumented immigrants. Nearly half the amount will go to Health and Human services to care for the thousands of children crossing the border.
About $300 million will help the immigrants get back to their country of origin. $5 million will be spent on an advertising campaign that started this week to warn of the dangers of getting to the country.The administration wants the ads to dispel rumors of legal entry that's been floating around Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.
"At this point in time, I think any help that we get is great," State Representative Oscar Longoria said. "I think you kind of see there's a huge backlog in some of these cases. We have to make sure we take care of them in a humanitarian effort, make sure that the resources and the facilities are there to make sure that these individuals are healthy."
President Obama is going to be in Austin Wednesday and will reportedly meet with Governor Rick Perry to discuss the immigration issue. The White House has repeatedly said the President will not come visit the Valley.
Full White House release:
While overall rates of apprehensions across our Southwest border remain at near historic lows, apprehensions and processing of children and individuals from Central America crossing the border in the Rio Grande Valley have continued at high rates. The Administration continues to address this urgent humanitarian situation with a whole-of government response which includes efforts by the Departments of Homeland Security (DHS) and Justice (DOJ) to deploy additional enforcement resources -- including immigration judges, Immigration and Customs Enforcement attorneys, and asylum officers -- to focus on individuals and adults traveling with children from Central America and entering without authorization across the Southwest border. Part of this surge includes detention of adults traveling with children, as well as expanded use of the Alternatives to Detention program, to avoid a more significant humanitarian situation. DHS is working to secure additional space that satisfies applicable legal and humanitarian standards for detention of adults with children. This surge of resources means that cases are processed fairly and as quickly as possible, ensuring the protection of asylum seekers and refugees while enabling the prompt removal of individuals who do not qualify for asylum or other forms of relief from removal. Finally, to attack the criminal organizations and smuggling rings that are exploiting these individuals, agencies are surging law enforcement task forces in cooperation with our international partners, with a focus on stepped-up interdiction and prosecution.
Under the President’s direction, the Administration also continues to work closely with our Mexican and Central American partners to address the root causes of this problem, stem the flow of adults and unaccompanied children into the United States, and expand capacity to receive and reintegrate repatriated migrants. Following the Vice President’s June 20 meeting with leaders from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico, to discuss our shared responsibility for promoting security, these countries committed to working together and with the United States to address the immediate humanitarian situation as well as the long-term challenges. Secretary Kerry met with leaders from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras on July 1st in Panama, and in his remarks highlighted some of the challenges driving migration, the importance of applying the law and combating misinformation, and working together with Central American partners to address these challenges. We are working with our Central American partners, nongovernmental organizations, and other influential voices to send a clear message to potential migrants so that they understand the significant dangers of this journey and to make clear that they are not eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals process or earned citizenship provisions that are part of comprehensive immigration reform pending in the Congress. As part of this effort, we have also committed foreign assistance resources to improve capacity of these countries to receive and reintegrate returned individuals and address the underlying security and economic issues that cause migration.
While the Administration is working across all of these channels, we are eager to work with the Congress to ensure that sufficient resources and authorities exist to continue our efforts. That is why today the President is requesting a $3.7 billion supplemental appropriation focused on:
• Deterrence, including increased detainment and removal of adults with children and increased immigration court capacity to speed cases
• Enforcement, including enhanced interdiction and prosecution of criminal networks, increased surveillance, and expanded collaborative law enforcement task force efforts
• Foreign Cooperation, including improved repatriation and reintegration, stepped-up public information campaigns, and efforts to address the root causes of migration
• Capacity, including increased detainment, care, and transportation of unaccompanied children
The supplemental appropriation broken down below would fund activities at the Departments of, Homeland Security (DHS), Justice (DOJ), State and other International Programs, and Health and Human Services (HHS).
The Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement - $1.1 billion
This proposal would provide the Department of Homeland Security a total of $1.1 billion for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Of this total:
• $116 million would pay for transportation costs associated with the significant rise in apprehensions of unaccompanied children;
• $109 million would provide for immigration and customs enforcement efforts, including expanding the Border Enforcement Security Task Force program, doubling the size of vetted units in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, and expanding investigatory activities by ICE Homeland Security Investigations; and
• $879 million would pay for detention and removal of apprehended undocumented adults traveling with children, expansion of alternatives to detention programs for these individuals, and additional prosecution capacity for adults with children who cross the border unlawfully.
The Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection - $433 million
This proposal would provide the Department of Homeland Security a total of $433 million for Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Of this total:
• $364 million would pay for operational costs of responding to the significant rise in apprehensions of unaccompanied children and families, including overtime and temporary duty costs for Border Patrol agents, contract services and facility costs to care for children while in CBP custody, and medical and transportation service arrangements;
• $29 million for CBP to expand its role in Border Enforcement Security Task Force programs, increasing information-sharing and collaboration among the participating law enforcement agencies combatting transnational crime; and
• $39.4 million to increase air surveillance capabilities that would support 16,526 additional flight hours for border surveillance and 16 additional crews for unmanned aerial systems to improve detection and interdiction of illegal activity.
The Department of Justice - $64 million
This proposal would provide the Department of Justice a total of $64 million. Of the total:
• $45.4 million would be to hire approximately 40 additional immigration judge teams, including those anticipated to be hired on a temporary basis. This funding would also expand courtroom capacity including additional video conferencing and other equipment in support of the additional immigration judge teams. These additional resources, when combined with the FY 2015 Budget request for 35 additional teams, would provide sufficient capacity to process an additional 55,000 to 75,000 cases annually.
• $2.5 million would be used to expand the legal orientation program that provides assistance to adults and custodians of children in the immigration court system.
• $15 million to provide direct legal representation services to children in immigration proceedings.
• $1.1 million to hire additional immigration litigation attorneys to support Federal agencies involved in detainee admission, regulation, and removal actions.
Department of State and Other International Programs - $300 million
This proposal would provide $300 million to the Department of State. Of the total:
• $295 million would support efforts to repatriate and reintegrate migrants to Central America, to help the governments in the region better control their borders, and to address the underlying root causes driving migration, i.e. creating the economic, social, governance, and citizen security conditions to address factors that are contributing to significant increases in migration to the United States. Beyond initial assistance, continued funding for repatriation and reintegration activities will be contingent on sustained progress and cooperation by the Central American countries.
• $5 million would support State Department media campaigns in Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras, targeting potential migrants and their families. The campaigns will emphasize the dangers of the journey, deliver the message that unaccompanied children are not given a permit to stay in the U.S., and highlight a shared community responsibility for the welfare of unaccompanied children. Funds would also support youth programs to develop skills and leadership among potential migrants.
The Department of Health and Human Services - $1.8 billion
This proposal would provide an additional $1.8 billion for HHS to provide the appropriate care for unaccompanied children, consistent with Federal law, while maintaining services for refugees. With these funds, HHS will have the resources to be able to care for the children currently projected to come into the custody of the Department of Homeland Security while putting in place more stable, cost-effective arrangements for these children going forward. The proposal would also support the ongoing HHS medical response activities for unaccompanied children to address the surge at Border Patrol facilities.
Without supplemental funding, absent undertaking extraordinary measures, agencies will not have sufficient resources to adequately address this situation. HHS will be unable to address the influx of children by securing sufficient shelter capacity with the number of children held at Border Patrol stations continuing to increase, for longer periods of time. Going forward, HHS will be unable to set-up more stable, cost-effective arrangements for these children, Border Patrol agents will have to be re-assigned to child care duties from their border security work, and ICE will lack the resources needed to sufficiently expand detention and removal capacity for adults with children who cross the border illegally. In addition, without additional funds, DOJ will be unable to keep pace with its growing caseload, leading to longer wait times for those cases already on the docket. And absent dedicated resources in Central American countries, we will not make progress on the larger drivers of this humanitarian crisis. For these reasons, supplemental resources are urgently needed to continue forward with the aggressive response that the Administration has deployed to date.