WASHINGTON — House Speaker John Boehner urged President Barack Obama Friday to send National Guard troops to the southern border to help deal with the surge of unaccompanied minors from Central America, calling it a “national security and humanitarian crisis.”
In a letter to the president, Boehner blamed Obama administration policies for the huge increase in children making their way here from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, and said the president must act.
Boehner said National Guard troops could help ensure the safety of the children and their families. And he said the State Department should work with Central American nations to help speed processing times to return children and families to their countries and to make sure that people know of the dangers of heading north.
“The policies of your administration have directly resulted in the belief by these immigrants that once they reach U.S. soil, they will be able to stay here indefinitely,” Boehner wrote.
“While we understand that many of these individuals are coming to this country to escape violence and hardship in their home country, the current climate along the border and our enforcement policies are only encouraging them to risk their lives and those of their children. It is time that we confront the crisis along the border head-on through immediate and aggressive action.”
The Border Patrol says the number of minors coming from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras has soared more than 1,000 percent. Administration officials have said it’s largely because of conditions in their home countries, but there’s also a belief among some of the migrants that they would be allowed to stay once in the U.S.
The White House had no immediate response to Boehner.
The speaker’s letter underscores that the issue has increasingly become a political problem for the Obama administration, which had hoped to spend the spring and summer pressuring House Republicans to pass comprehensive immigration legislation but is now increasingly occupied with the unaccompanied minor issue.
Boehner made no mention in his letter of immigration legislation and the House appears to have no inclination to move on it, particularly after the surprise primary defeat last week of Majority Leader Eric Cantor at the hands of a conservative who accused him of supporting “amnesty.”
PBS NewsHour will have more on the influx of migrants and what it means for children who cross the border unaccompanied by a parent on Friday night’s show.