Friday, June 20, 2014 6:10 pm
WASHINGTON- The Obama administration on Friday said it would boost resources and speed up deportation hearings to cope with a suddenly rising tide of illegal immigration among children from Central America.
The move comes while Vice President Joe Biden is in the region to discuss the problem, which has further roiled the already toxic debate over immigration reform in the United States.
The White House said the government would step up enforcement resources to hold and process children and adults who bring them into the country illegally.
A White House fact sheet said hearings would be held “as quickly and efficiently as possible while also protecting those who are seeking asylum” to allow US Customs and Immigration officers to return unlawful migrants to their own countries as soon as possible.
Between October 2013 and the end of May 2014, US border officials intercepted more than 47,000 unaccompanied minors trying to illegally enter the United States, almost twice the number registered between October 2012 and the end of September 2013.
Immigration experts say the increased flow of migrants is being partly driven by rising violence in Guatemala.
Guatemala says around 1,550 of its emigrant children are currently in shelters in Texas and Arizona.
Honduras said Wednesday it was preparing to receive around 13 undocumented migrant children detained in the United States and Mexico.
Biden was Friday meeting the presidents of Guatemala and El Salvador, as well as a senior representative from Honduras’s government and Mexico’s interior secretary, to develop proposals to stem the flow of unlawful migration, the White House said.
President Barack Obama on Thursday spoke with his Mexican counterpart Enrique Pena Nieto on the eve of the talks to discuss a “regional strategy” to tackle the mass migrations of minors.