Obama’s emergency funding request is just over 10% of the $30 billion in proposed border security funding included in the Senate-passed immigration reform bill that House Republican leaders have stalled.
A breakdown of the request, which requires approval from the deeply divided Congress, shows a broad approach by the administration to a problem that the critics say should have been anticipated.
It seeks $1.6 billion for the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice to bolster customs and border efforts as well as cracking down on smugglers, and $300 million for the State Department to help Mexico and Central American governments counter what officials called “misinformation” by smugglers about what immigrants will face on the journey to the U.S. border and once they arrive.
A main goal is to speed up the processing of arriving young immigrants to send back those who lack legal status. For most, the likely outcome will be a return home, White House officials told reporters on a conference call.
Obama’s funding request also seeks $1.8 billion for the Department of Health and Human Services to provide appropriate care for unaccompanied children crossing the border.
The officials said that money would allow the government to meet its legal and moral obligations for such youngsters now being crammed in overcrowded facilities in several states while awaiting processing.
In addition, the emergency funding request for the rest of fiscal year 2014, which ends on September 30, seeks an additional $615 million to ensure necessary money to fight wildfires — an issue separate from the immigration matter.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the “urgent situation” that the emergency appropriation request would address should usurp any talk of making budget cuts elsewhere to offset the cost.
“With an emergency request like this, traditionally Congress has not sought to bog down that process in a search for offsets,” he told reporters on Tuesday.
The administration also will seek more leeway under existing law to speed up the processing of the undocumented newcomers who are overcrowding holding facilities and sparking protests in communities intended as temporary destinations.