House Speaker John Boehner called on President Obama to send the National Guard to the U.S.-Mexico border to help push back a surge of illegal immigrants -- many of them children -- from Central America.
“Our country is facing a national security and humanitarian crisis along our southern border,” the Ohio Republican said in a letter Friday to the president. “Thousands of children and families are pouring across our borders, overwhelming our resources and endangering those most vulnerable to exploitation.”
Boehner said the National Guard is "uniquely qualified" to respond to such a crisis because it's "able to help deal with both the needs of these children and families as well as relieve the Border Patrol to focus on their primary duty of securing our border."
Border Patrol agents could apprehend as many as 90,000 children traveling alone this year trying to illegally cross the Mexican border, more than three times the number of children apprehended in 2013, according to a draft internal Homeland Security memorandum reviewed by the Associated Press. The number could soar to 142,000 by 2015, the memo says.
Boehner blamed the problem on Obama administration immigration policies he said have given migrants false hope “that once they reach U.S. soil, they will be able to stay here indefinitely.”
“While we understand that many of these individuals are coming to this country to escape violence and hardship in their home country, the current climate along the border and our enforcement policies are only encouraging them to risk their lives and those of their children,” he said.
Boehner wants the administration to enter talks with the Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras governments to ensure that apprehended migrants are “promptly and efficiently” returned to their home countries.
He added the State Department should work with the countries "to design and execute an aggressive communications effort to fully articulate the dangers and struggles children and families will face if they attempt to migrate to the U.S."
The speaker blamed the Mexican government for exacerbating the problem, saying lax enforcement at Mexico’s southern border with Guatemala and Belize “have given a free pass to immigrants heading north.”
“It is time that we confront the crisis along the border head-on through immediate and aggressive action,” Boehner said. “We can no longer tolerate the conditions threatening these children, nor continue to accept the risks of a porous southern border.”