As Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and a contingent of senior federal officials toured immigration facilities in South Texas, the White House announced that an influx of money and resources were being sent to the border to combat the growing number of Central American immigrants flowing into the state.
An estimated 200,000 illegal immigrants have crossed into South Texas this year. Federal officials estimate 47,000 unaccompanied children from Central American countries have been caught sneaking across the border. These numbers have strained detention facilities, local law enforcement officers and federal agents working along the border.
Friday the Obama administration announced a surge of money and personnel to help combat the problem. The White House announced more immigration judges are being sent to the border to speed up deportation, detention and asylum hearings. There will also be increased monitoring of those illegal immigrants who are released prior to the proceedings.
Local 2 Investigates reported many illegal immigrants from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador are being released to stay with family members in other parts of the country because of a lack of detention space. Federal officials said those individuals have all gone through background checks and are still required to appear before a judge at a later date. The federal government has not yet released estimates of how many of the immigrants who entered the country illegally have been released or how many have appeared at required court hearings.
Federal officials said more detention centers are being readied in other parts of the U.S. to house unaccompanied children, individual adults and those traveling with family. Central American immigrants are detained until transportation is arranged to deport them to their home countries. International law requires citizens to be deported to their home countries.
Federal officials believe part of this influx is due to rampant violence in Central America, prompting parents to send their children north to the U.S.
The federal government announced it will now be providing a combined $254.6 million in aid to El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. The money will go toward helping repatriate citizens who've fled the countries, combat crime and gang violence, as well as help bolster overall citizen security.
Vice President Joe Biden is also meeting with regional leaders in Guatemala to address the problem, as well as trying to squash unfounded rumors among Central American citizens that women and children are automatically being allowed to stay in the U.S.
The announcement by the Obama administration comes 48 hours after Gov. Rick Perry announced his own so-called border surge.
The state is spending an additional $1.3 million a week to beef up Department of Public Safety operations along the border.
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