Obama urges Congress to deal with border crisis before summer break

Following a meeting with three Central American presidents, President Obama urged Congress to pass legislation within the next week to respond to the influx of unaccompanied minors crossing the Southern border into the U.S.

"It is my hope [that Congress] will not leave town for the month of August for their vacations without doing something to solve this problem," Mr. Obama said.

He stressed that the $3.7 billion proposal he's put on the table would provide resources for additional border security, additional immigration judges, and assistance for Central American Countries.

"We need to get that down," he said. "There've been a lot of press conferences -- we need action and less talk."

Mr. Obama and Vice President Joe Biden met at the White House with President Otto Perez Molina of Guatemala, President Juan Orlando Hernandez of Honduras, and President Salvador Sanchez Ceren of El Salvador. Before the meeting, Mr. Obama had a working lunch with the Central American presidents.

Mr. Obama said he relayed to the Central American presidents that "we've seen an outpouring of generosity -- not only from families at the borders, themselves providing assistance... but actually from across the country, people have expressed their care and concern for these children."

However, he added, "I also emphasized to my friends here that we have to deter a continuing influx of children putting themselves at great risk and families putting themselves at great risk within a legal framework and humanitarian framework, with proper due process."

Children and families who do not have a legal claim to stay, he said, "at some point will be subject to repatriation to their home countries."

Mr. Obama further clarified that the U.S. only accepts refugees under "fairly narrow criteria."

"Typically, refugee status is not granted just based on economic need or because a family lives in a bad neighborhood or in poverty."

"There may be some narrow circumstances in which there is a humanitarian or refugee status that a family might be eligible for," he continued. However, he said, "It'd be better for them to apply in [their home] country rather than take a very dangerous journey up to Texas to make those same claims."

House Republicans, meanwhile, met Friday morning to discuss the proposals put forward by a GOP task force. The set of proposals to deal with the influx of children could cost as much as $1.5 billion, though lawmakers coming out of the GOP meeting said they were interested in reducing the cost.

Expressing concern over failing to address the crisis before leaving for the House's month-long August recess, lawmakers said they are hoping to come to agreement on the legislation this weekend and have a final product by Tuesday.

Several Republicans have expressed interest in including a provision to end DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) -- the program that Mr. Obama enacted in 2012 to allow certain undocumented youths to stay in the country legally (temporarily) if they meet certain requirements. However, it's unclear whether many GOP members would insist on including this provision in any bill.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Friday she's "ever hopeful" for a legislative response before August without expressing much optimism.

One sticking point between Democrats and Republicans is the status of a 2008 law which assures that children from countries other than Canada and Mexico receive an immigration court proceedings before facing deportation. Republicans want to amend the law so that children from any country can elect to return home without due process. The Congressional Hispanic Caucus is adamantly against this move.

Pelosi said Friday that if the law is going to be amended, it should happen during a larger debate over comprehensive immigration reform later in the year.

"These are different laws we are addressing," she said. "One is to address the needs [of the children], and we need a supplemental to do that because we have an emergency situation that needs to be addressed. Secondly, we have immigration law. What is happening at the border is a case for passing immigration reform. Some are using it as an excuse for not passing immigration reform. Any excuse will do, they said they aren't going to do it."

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