The Obama administration plans to request a supplemental appropriations package in the coming weeks in order to manage an unprecedented surge of unaccompanied minors at the southwest border, according to a White House official.
The administration will ask Congress for more money and additional authority to broaden border enforcement and speed the screening and deportation of children from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador with no legal option to stay in the U.S., matching fast-track procedures already in place for young Mexican migrants, the official said.
The White House also will ask Congress to boost funding for humanitarian assistance programs and tweak current statutes to allow the Department of Homeland Security to pursue harsher penalties for smugglers. The request will also seek to double down on outreach efforts with the three Central American countries in order to prevent future waves of illegal migrants, according to the official.
The administration will send a letter to Congress announcing the supplemental on Monday, according to the official, and will provide a detailed request once Congress returns from its week-long July Fourth recess.
The news was first reported by the New York Times, which said the White House will request more than $2 billion in supplemental funding. The administration official said details are still being finalized.
“We’ve got to treat people with dignity and respect, but at the same time, we’ve got to have an expedited removal policy. Otherwise, it’s never going to stop,” Rep. Henry Cuellar, a Democratic appropriator whose southwest Texas district has seen a large influx of migrants in recent months, told CQ Roll Call. “Hopefully that’s what the president is looking at in his request and certainly that’s what we’ve been petitioning for.”
The request is sure to ignite a fiery debate in Congress over immigration and emergency spending as lawmakers return for their last work period ahead of the August recess.
A spokesman for Senate Appropriations Chairwoman Barbara A. Mikulski said that the Maryland Democrat “intends to review the request carefully.”
Niels Lesniewski contributed to this report.