United States Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson announced yesterday that he is in discussions with several Latin American ambassadors about the increasing number of unaccompanied Central American children who are illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border into southern Texas, and considering ways to send them home. Through May, 47,000 such children have made their way to the U.S.—double the number from last year. Most come from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras.
Johnson’s announcement comes as a response to two public letters he received from attorney generals in the border states of Texas and Arizona about undocumented immigrants. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott requested $30 million from Homeland Security for an “overwhelmed” border patrol. He claims that the arrival of undocumented immigrants exposes the state to threat of “dangerous cartel activity, including narcotics smuggling and human trafficking.” In a separate letter, Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne said that federal immigration authorities must stop the practice of moving undocumented single parents with children to Arizona due to limited housing availability in Texas, and threatened to sue if it continues.
In his address, Johnson made clear that those entering the U.S. illegally would not qualify for the pathway to citizenship that is part of the comprehensive reform legislation pending in Congress.