Friday, June 20 2014, 05:43 PM EDT
White House Adding Manpower to Deal With Flood of Migrant Kids
The White House is promising to hire more judges, Immigration and Customs Enforcement attorneys and asylum officers to process deportations amid a surge of unaccompanied minor children, and adults with children, being apprehended at the Southwest border.
Approximately 52,000 unaccompanied children, largely from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, have been taken into custody near America’s southern border between Oct. 1 and June 15, a 92 percent increase compared to the same time last year.
During a similar period, from Oct. 1 through May, roughly 39,000 adults with children were apprehended.
The Department of Homeland Security and Justice Department announced during a White House Press call that they will be teaming up to bolster their enforcement and removal proceedings.
“Showing up at the border illegally is not a ticket into this country,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said today during the daily White House news briefing. “Those individuals are not eligible for deferred action. … We are mobilizing additional resources to try to deal with this problem more.
“So much of what we’re seeing on the southern border is the result of a deliberate misinformation campaign that is propagated by criminal syndicates in Central America,” he said. “That misinformation is causing some people who are in a rather desperate situation to risk their lives to come to the U.S. border expecting they will be able to stay in this country. That is simply not true, and it’s important for people all across this country and others to understand facts.”
However, on the ground at the epicenter of the humanitarian crisis there is some reason for doubt. Just this week, when ABC News traveled to McAllen, Texas, women with children apprehended by the border patrol were then released at a local bus stop to purchase tickets and travel into the U.S. after providing only a promise to appear at court within 30 days.
The administration was unable to say how many people were given notices to appear in court and released to join family members currently living in the United States. Nor were officials able to say how many of those previously given notice actually appeared for their court dates.
There was also no information readily available on how many of the unaccompanied minor children will eventually be returned to their country or be allowed to stay in the United States with relatives or in foster care.
When judges decide minor cases, they base their decision on what is in the best interest of the child.
Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas said officials are “actively seeking additional capacity to house adults with children.”
The administration is also working to stem the flood of misinformation in Central America that they say is often planted by smuggling networks.
Today, Vice President Joe Biden is in Guatemala to discuss the urgent humanitarian issue with the presidents of Guatemala and El Salvador, as well as representatives from the governments of Mexico and Honduras.
The administration announced the U.S. government will be providing $9.6 million to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras so they may invest in their repatriation centers to process those deported from the United States. They will also be spending around $80 million to create new programs within each country to help stem violence and offer services to at-risk youth.
ABC News’ Arlette Saenz contributed to this report.