- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Top Obama officials lobbied governors of states along the U.S.-Mexico border in a conference call Tuesday to pressure Congress to approve $3.7 billion in emergency funding to deal with the surge of illegal immigrants from Central America.

The White House said Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Matthews Burwell and other officials discussed the administration’s “comprehensive response to the humanitarian situation at the border,” including tens of thousands of unaccompanied children.

“If Congress doesn’t act soon, our hardworking border patrol agents and immigration courts won’t have the resources they need to do their jobs and care for and process these children,” the White House said.

Republican lawmakers are resisting the administration’s request, saying they will address it in pieces. Action before the August congressional recess is unlikely.

Administration officials said they are “ramping up prosecution efforts against criminal smuggling networks and confronting the root of the problem with top-level diplomatic efforts in Central America.”

Since last fall, more than 57,000 unaccompanied children have been among the illegal immigrants crossing into the U.S. from countries such as Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. The administration is being urged to send the children and adults back quickly, but President Obama has said his hands are tied by a 2008 law requiring more thorough deportation proceedings for children from countries not bordering the U.S.

The White House said as part of the president’s “whole-of-government approach,” the administration is working with states and local communities as they identify temporary shelters for unaccompanied minors.

“Officials noted on the call that preliminary data show that average daily apprehensions of unaccompanied children by the Customs and Border Patrol have dropped by about half from June to July,” the White House said. “Administration officials underscored the importance of continuing this progress and working with governors to provide appropriate care for those apprehended at the border.”

Officials told the governors that the administration is responding “in an efficient and timely way” to the surge of illegal immigrants.

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