WHITE HOUSE — The Obama administration is moving to stop the flow of mainly Central American children arriving at the southern U.S. border.
U.S. officials say tens of thousands of unaccompanied children have made their way illegally across the southwestern border over the last eight months.
Their numbers have overwhelmed U.S. immigration facilities, and the Obama administration on Friday announced new measures to deal with the influx, including plans to open new detention centers and dispatch more judges, lawyers, and asylum officers to deal with the cases.
While some of the immigrants are being considered for asylum, many are not eligible for entry into the United States.
The administration is targeting what White House spokesman Josh Earnest said is false information leading many to make the dangerous journey north.
“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 United States border expecting that they'll be able to stay in this country. That is simply not true.”
Vice President Joe Biden Friday took that message to Guatemala, where he met with officials from the region.
The administration has announced it will start detaining families at the border. Until now, U.S. authorities have in some cases held families briefly before releasing them in the U.S., pending court dates.
The immigrants transit through Mexico. On Thursday, U.S. President Barack Obama spoke with his Mexican counterpart, Enrique Pena Nieto, by telephone about the two countries' shared responsibility to address the root causes of the mass migration.