The White House had been kicking around the idea of requesting $2 billion to deal with the unprecedented wave of underage immigrants arriving from Central America. Today, in a sign of just how fast the crisis is escalating, it made a formal request to Congress for nearly twice that amount, reports the Washington Post. The $3.7 billion would be divvied up among various agencies with a two-pronged goal: to speed up the deportation process while making sure that the kids get adequate health care in detention centers in the interim. Among other things, the money would be used to send more immigration judges to the border, build more holding centers, and beef up border-security patrols.
More than 50,000 unaccompanied minors and about 40,000 women with children have been caught on the border this year, mostly in Texas, far more than any other year. The White House said yesterday that most would not be allowed to stay, reports the Hill. Congress must approve the money, and a spokesperson for John Boehner suggested that it wouldn't be a quick vote. "The speaker still supports deploying the National Guard to provide humanitarian support in the affected areas, which this proposal does not address," he said. The request—see the White House fact sheet here—comes as President Obama prepares to head to Texas. He won't visit the border, reports the New York Times, but he will now apparently meet with Gov. Rick Perry to discuss the situation. (Meanwhile, the UN wants the US to treat Central Americans as refugees.)