President Barack Obama asked Congress Tuesday for $3.7 billion to deal with the influx of unaccompanied minors at the Southern U.S. border.
The request was made in what’s known as a supplemental funding request sent to congressional leaders in a letter. The administration wants the money to be available for use through the end of this year and next year.
The request has to be brought to the floor and voted on. Through a spokesman, House Speaker John Boehner has already said he does not like the fact that using the National Guard wasn’t part of the request. The White House says they do not intend to use the National Guard because the minors are turning themselves in at the border, and the National Guard can be used elsewhere.
So what does the administration want to do with that money?
The White House plans to use funds for:
1. Deterrence: Increased detainment and removal of adults with children and increased court capacity. That means being able to put more people through the system more quickly. That, though, would mean more judges. It’s not clear, however, where those judges would come from. The White House points to the Justice Department and says it would have to decide how that happens.
2. Enforcement: Enhanced interdiction and prosecution of criminal networks. That would include increased surveillance and an expansion of law enforcement cooperation across borders, as well as within the U.S. to root out drug gang violence.
3. Foreign cooperation: Get the children to safe environments in their home countries, or improved repatriation. That means foreign aid to help the countries — where the children are coming from — improve their systems. It also means that the Obama administration wants Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, where the children are mostly coming from, to run public-information campaigns that tell people not to come to the U.S. or send their kids.
4. Capacity: More detainment facilities and increased capacity to provide care for the children. This includes identifying appropriate locations and providing resources for the particular care needed for children. Will this mean more money for local municipalities where children will be off loaded? Individual agencies will, when appropriate, partner with state and local agencies, said White House Deputy Press Secretary Shawn Turner.
What they are not asking for, however, is a change to a 2008 child-trafficking law, signed by former President George W. Bush, that makes it necessary for children to appear in court and provide care for them.
By the numbers: How would the Obama administration allocate the money?
$1.8 billion to the Department of Health and Human Services to care for the children, provide housing and address medical needs.
$1.5 billion to the Department of Homeland Security, including:
- $879 million for detention and removal
- $480 million for border agent overtime and temporary duties, as well as detention facility costs, medical costs and transportation
- $109 million for expanded investigations in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras
- $39 million for increased border air surveillance
$300 million to the State Department for foreign aid, and to reintegrate children in their home countries. It also includes a $5 million State Department ad campaign in Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, to deter parents and children from making the trip to the U.S.
$64 million to the Department of Justice for more judges, including $45 million for the addition of 40 more judges teams. The White House believes this could mean processing 55,000 to 75,000 cases more per year; $15 million for lawyers for the children.