US President Barack Obama speaks after presiding over a naturalization ceremony for active duty service members and civilians in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C. on July 4, 2014. The President plans to use executive actions to circumvent congress and move ahead with immigration reform. UPI/Jim Lo Scalzo | License Photo
WASHINGTON, July 8 (UPI) -- The White House asked Congress for $3.7 billion to deal with the flood of unaccompanied children coming illegally to the U.S., almost double the amount it originally said it would ask for.
President Obama signaled plans late last month to request about $2 billion to go toward handling the children who have already arrived and preventing others from entering the country, but refrained from specifying the details of its request until Congress returned from its week-long July 4 recess.
Officials Tuesday said the request includes $1.1 billion for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, $433 million for Customs and Border Protection, $64 million for the Department of Justice, $300 million to the State Department, and $1.8 billion to the Department of Health and Human Services.
The funds will pay for increased border patrol and aerial surveillance personnel, legal services for the immigrant children, 40 new teams of immigration judges to hear their cases, care for the children while they are in the U.S., and the cost of repatriating and reintegrating the children into their home countries.
Obama is also expected to ask Congress to amend statutes to speed up the screening and repatriation process.
The influx of children at the border has rapidly become a political and humanitarian crisis, with Republicans blaming the administration's deportation policies for encouraging children to seek refuge in the U.S., and Democrats charging Republicans' rhetoric with causing confusion.
Some 52,000 children have already been apprehended since last October, mostly coming from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, more than twice as many as all the previous year.
Obama will travel to Texas for private political fundraisers this week, but does not have plans to visit the border. Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican, has been deeply critical of the Obama administration's handling of the crisis and refused to greet the president at the airport. The White House has instead suggested a more "substantive meeting" in the form of a roundtable discussion.