Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) (Steve Helber/Associated Press)

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said Sunday that the United States needs to deport the tens of thousands of unaccompanied immigrant children who have been detained at the southwestern border.

"Otherwise the humanitarian crisis will continue," Ryan said on NBC's "Meet the Press." "Otherwise families in countries far away, on the other side of Mexico, will be giving thousands of dollars to traffickers to take their children over the border, and the humanitarian crisis will get worse."

Ryan also said he supports amending a 2008 law that prevents the United States from quickly deporting children who arrive here from certain Central American countries. The statute, which passed unanimously in the House and the Senate during the George W. Bush administration, was intended to prevent child trafficking.