White House seeks $3.7 billion to stem flow of illegal border crossers

The Obama administration is asking Congress for $3.7 billion in additional funding to respond to the surge of immigrant children who are fleeing poverty and violence in Central America and illegally crossing the southwest border into the U.S.

The White House says the funding would help the government apprehend, detain and more speedily deport the children, most of whom are coming from Honduras and Guatemala through the Rio Grande Valley in Texas.

The biggest share — $1.8 million – would go to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which is charged with caring for the children after they have been apprehended. That agency has been transferring some of them to the care of relatives in Georgia and other states, where they remain while they go through federal deportation proceedings.

The government has been temporarily housing some of the children at U.S. military bases in California, Oklahoma and Texas. Federal officials have not announced plans to do so in Georgia.

“Without supplemental funding, absent undertaking extraordinary measures, agencies will not have sufficient resources to adequately address this situation,” the White House said in a news release Tuesday.

Republican congressman blasted the funding request, saying the Obama administration has created the problem through lax immigration enforcement.

“President Obama created this disaster at our southern border and now he is asking to use billions of taxpayer dollars without accountability or a plan in place to actually stop the border crisis,” Republican U.S. Rep. Bob Goodlatte of Virginia, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said in a prepared statement.