Obama asks Congress for US$3.7b to stem Central American migrant flood

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 July, 2014, 4:17am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 July, 2014, 4:17am

US President Barack Obama asked Congress for an emergency US$3.7 billion to contain the surge of illegal Central American immigrants, many of them unaccompanied children, crossing into the US from Mexico.

The money would increase detention and court capacity to speed up decisions, while expanding law enforcement and prosecution of the criminal networks that smuggle people over the border. It would help improve the temporary housing and care for immigrants while their cases are judged.

"Without supplemental funding," the administration said, "agencies will not have sufficient resources to adequately address this situation".

The request was made as Obama prepared to leave Washington to help Democrats raise money for the mid-term elections. Stops were planned for Denver, Dallas and Austin.

In Dallas, Obama plans to hold a discussion with faith leaders and state and local officials on stemming the influx of migrants. The administration has invited Texas Republican Governor Rick Perry to join the talks.

Perry, a potential Republican nominee for president in 2016, has sparred with Obama over Central American migrants entering the US at the south Texas border.

More than 52,000 unaccompanied children were held at the US-Mexico border from October 1 last year until June 15, about double the total in a similar period a year earlier, US Customs and Border Protection reported.

Most of the children are smuggled through Central America and Mexico.