Children illegally crossing the border would be repatriated to their home countries, US President Barack Obama has told visiting leaders of the Central American countries.
“Within a legal framework and a humanitarian framework and proper due process, children who do not have proper claims and families with children who do not have proper claims, at some point will be subject to repatriation to their home countries,” Obama told reporters after the meeting. “All of us recognise that we have a shared responsibility to address this problem,” the US president, however, observed.
Heads of States of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador met Obama at the White House on Friday, during which illegal immigration, in particular that of children was the main issue to be discussed. “What I did was share with my counterparts here the efforts that the United States has in our continuing response, including unprecedented numbers of Border Patrol agents and resources at the border, more facilities to properly care for these children that have already arrived, and more resources for our immigration courts to process the claims of these children in a way that’s orderly and timely that protects their due process but also expedites the length of time that it takes to assure that they’ve gotten a fair deal,” he said.
Obama said he emphasised to all three Presidents that the American people and his administration have great compassion for these children and want to make sure that they are cared for the way all children should be cared for.
“We have seen an outpouring of generosity from not only families at the borders themselves that are providing assistance — you have nonprofit organisations and churches that are providing assistance but actually from across the country people have expressed their concern and compassion for these children,” he said.
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“I also emphasised to my friends here that we have to deter a continuing influx of children putting themselves at great risk and families who are putting their children at great risk,” he said, adding that those who cross the border illegally would be repatriated to their home country. “I say that not because we lack compassion, but because in addition to being a nation of immigrants we’re also a nation of laws.
“And if you have a disorderly and dangerous process of migration, that not only puts the children themselves at risk, but it also calls to question the legal immigration process of those who are properly applying and trying to enter into our country,” Obama asserted. During the meeting the leaders discussed ongoing collaboration regarding the increased numbers of unaccompanied minors and adults with children migrating to the United States.
“We expressed our shared belief in the need for a humanitarian response to the situation, with a focus on the safety and well-being of children and families.
“We reiterated our commitment to prevent families and children from undertaking this dangerous journey and to work together to promote safe, legal, and orderly migration,” a joint statement said. “We committed to work together on the ongoing efforts to humanely repatriate migrants, consistent with due process,” it added.