Obama wants $1 billion to curb illegal immigration from Central America

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WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama wants to spend $1 billion to help curb illegal immigration from three Central American countries, according to the president’s budget request.

The request was outlined in the president’s $4 trillion budget request sent to Congress Monday.

The administration first proposed financial aid to Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala last year after more than 51,000 children from those countries were caught crossing the border alone. At the same time, more than 69,000 people traveling as families, mostly young mothers and children from Central America, were also apprehended at the Mexican border.

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The spike in children apprehended at the border caught the Obama administration off guard, despite years of increasing numbers of unaccompanied children found trying to sneak across the border. The situation strained resources within the Homeland Security and Health and Human Services departments, both of which are responsible for dealing with children caught crossing the border alone.

Obama described the situation last spring and summer as a humanitarian crisis.

The U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID, will be responsible for providing Congress with a strategy “to address the key factors in the countries in Central America” where the child immigrants have fled, according to Obama’s proposed State Department budget. The budget request said the money would be spent on helping improve border security and economic and social development and make improvements to law enforcement and judicial systems in those countries, among other things.

Some of the money would also be used to support repatriation facilities to help process immigrants deported by the United States.

The State Department budget request also includes $142 million to help Mexico bolster its southern border.

ALICIA A. CALDWELL, Associated Press

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