President Obama will host Central American leaders next week to discuss efforts to stem a surge of unaccompanied children from that region who have entered the United States illegally across the southern border over the past several months, the White House said.
Obama and Vice President Biden will meet on July 25 with President Otto Perez Molina of Guatemala, President Juan Orlando Hernandez of Honduras, and President Salvador Sanchez Ceren of El Salvador. So far this year, more than 57,000 children have crossed the border without their parents, including more than 40,000 from those three countries.
Under U.S. law, children from countries other than Mexico and Canada receive greater legal protections, making it more difficult for the Obama administration to send the Central American children home. That has swamped federal resources, prompting the president to ask Congress for $3.7 billion in emergency funds to deal with the crisis. Lawmakers have split over the proposal, with Republicans balking at handing Obama more money without stronger guarantees that the administration can stem the flow.
Obama and his counterparts "will discuss how to reinforce our ongoing collaboration to stem the flow of undocumented migrants," White House press secretary Josh Earnest said in a statement. They also will discuss ways to foster development, economic growth and security in the region.