The leaders of three Central American countries will meet with President Barack Obama next week in Washington as part of U.S. efforts to stem a flood of children coming across the Mexican border.
Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will host Presidents Otto Perez Molina of Guatemala, Juan Orlando Hernandez of Honduras and Salvador Sanchez Ceren of El Salvador at the White House on July 25.
Obama and Biden will discuss “how to reinforce our ongoing collaboration to stem the flow of undocumented migrants from Central America to Mexico and the United States,” the White House said yesterday.
The meeting is the latest step by the administration to combat the perception in Central America that children and families who cross the border illegally can remain in the U.S. if they are captured by law enforcement.
The number of unaccompanied minors who’ve tried to enter the U.S. illegally so far this year has already doubled the total in all of 2013. The influx has upended the debate over changing immigration laws, as Republicans say Obama’s policies are partly to blame for drawing the immigrants. Obama is seeking $3.7 billion in emergency funding to temporarily shelter and process the immigrants.
In his meetings, Obama plans to emphasize the need to return the children to their families in their home countries, according to a White House official who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity.
Also among the topics will be how the countries “can work together with other members of the international community to foster development, economic growth and security in the region and address the factors that are causing Central American citizens to undertake the dangerous journey to the United States,” the White House said.
The U.S. said yesterday that the number of young migrants apprehended at the border had dropped over recent weeks, from 1,985 during the week of June 22 to 977 last week. While the White House partially attributes the decline to the government’s efforts, officials also said that numbers typically drop during the summer because of the hot weather.
The Obama administration is seeking emergency border spending to deal with the surge of young migrants from Central America. Republicans have said that they will grant only enough funding to handle the immediate needs, less than half the amount sought by the president.