President Barack Obama says the U.S. Congress has the ability to "fix the problem" of the wave of unaccompanied minors coming across the border from Mexico into the United States.
Obama spoke to reporters Wednesday after meeting with Texas Governor Rick Perry and other officials about the immigration crisis.
The president urged Congress to approve his request for $3.7 billion in emergency funds. Obama said he asked Perry to pressure congress members from Texas to approve the funds.
Obama said Perry raised four areas of concern: the number of border patrol agents, the positioning of those agents, the different policies for immigrants from Mexico versus Central America and the functioning of the U.S. immigration judicial system.
The president said he told the governor that all those concerns could be addressed if Congress gave in to his request for additional funding.
Obama said the problem is fixable if Congress is more interested in solving it, rather than concentrating on politics.
Earlier in the day, House Speaker John Boehner met with members of his Republican caucus to discuss the president's request.
Sources inside the closed meeting say Boehner told members the House needs to act on the request before leaving for a long recess in August.
White House Request to Fund Immigration Crisis
- Efforts by Departments of Homeland Security, Justice, State, Health and Human Services
- Increased detainment and removal of adults with children and increased immigration court capacity to speed cases
- Enhanced interdiction and prosecution of criminal networks, increased surveillance, and expanded law enforcement efforts
- Improved repatriation and reintegration, stepped-up public information campaigns, and efforts to address the root causes of migration
- Increased detainment, care, and transportation of unaccompanied children
Source: White House
Obama is seeking to deport more than 50,000 children back to their home countries, where many of them fled impoverished and crime-ridden communities but also were drawn to the U.S. by rumors that they could stay in the U.S. if they got into the country. The U.S. says they are unlikely to qualify for humanitarian relief to remain in the country.
The U.S. Justice Department says it plans to hire more judges to consider the children's cases, attempt to curb Central American violence and prosecute smugglers transporting the children to the U.S.
Obama's trip to Texas comes a day after he asked Congress for $3.7 billion in emergency funding to deal with the immigration surge.
The U.S. Senate a year ago approved comprehensive immigration reforms that would have allowed the 11 million immigrants already in the country illegally to eventually obtain U.S. citizenship. But the Republican-controlled House of Representatives is opposed and says it will not vote on the issue this year.
Obama says that within weeks he will take what executive actions he can without congressional assent to change the country's immigration rules.