The Obama administration on Tuesday announced it is asking Congress for $3.7 billion to handle the influx of undocumented children crossing into the United States from Mexico.
The funding would go to the Departments of Homeland Security (DHS), Justice (DOJ), State and Health and Human Services (HHS). It would help ramp up the detainment and proper care of undocumented migrants, speed up their court cases, step up the prosecution of criminal networks involved, and improve foreign cooperation to address the root causes of the migration.
The budget request "reflects the comprehensive nature of the government's strategy to resolve this situation in an aggressive and cost effective way," an administration official told reporters Tuesday.
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"We are taking steps both to protect due process but also remove these migrants more efficiently," an official said, adding that they're taking a "strong international approach" to the issue. Vice President Joe Biden has traveled to Central America and met with regional leaders there about the issue, while Secretary of State John Kerry also met with regional leaders in Panama. DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson and Marine Corps Gen. John Kelly, commander of the U.S. Southern Command, are currently in Guatemala for a final day of meetings with government officials about the migration crisis and other issues.
Michael Steel, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said that the Appropriations Committee and other congressmen, including a border crisis working group led by Rep. Kay Granger, R-Texas, will review the White House proposal.
"The Speaker still supports deploying the National Guard to provide humanitarian support in the affected areas - which this proposal does not address," Steel said.
The administration's proposal would give the DHS a total of $1.1 billion for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). That includes $116 million for transportation costs; $109 million for enforcement efforts like expanding the Border Enforcement Security Task Force program; and $879 million for the detention, removal and prosecution of apprehended undocumented adults traveling with children.
DHS would also get $433 million for Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Of that funding, $364 million would pay for operational costs like overtime pay for Border Patrol agents and contract services to care for children while in CBP custody. Another $29 million would help CBP expand its role in Border Enforcement Security Task Force programs and increase information-sharing among law enforcement agencies. CBP would also get $39.4 million to increase air surveillance capabilities.
The administration is asking for $64 million to hire addition immigration judge teams, expand courtroom capacity, and provide legal representation services to the children, among other things. It's asking for $300 million for the State Department mostly to support efforts to repatriate and reintegrate migrants to Central America.
Under the proposal, HHS would get $1.8 billion to provide the appropriate care for unaccompanied children, consistent with federal law, as well as maintain services for refugees. For instance, HHS provides medical response activities for unaccompanied children at Border Patrol facilities.
On Wednesday, the Department of Justice will announce that they will begin prioritizing unaccompanied minors as well as families with minors for deportation proceedings, CBS News Justice Producer Paula Reid reports.
Currently, the priority is to process detained adults, but the priority will now expand to include these other two categories in an effort to expedite the removal of the tens of thousands of children entering the U.S. illegally.
In order to process all of these individuals, the Department of Justice's Executive Office for Immigration Review will have judges conduct hearings via video teleconference. The money the White House has requested allocates funding for additional judges who could also hold hearings via video conferencing and move the process along more quickly.