White House wants new immigration powers

US ImmigrationThe White House is preparing to ask Congress for emergency powers in order to be able to fast-track the deportation of tens of thousands of unaccompanied immigrant minors who have illegally crossed the US border from Central America.  This move could bypass the protections that the Bush administration introduced.

President Obama has declared the surge of immigrant youngsters pouring into the Rio Grande Valley across the Mexican border to be a “humanitarian crisis” and has ordered the opening of emergency shelters inside military bases and an increase in the number of border agents.  In a significant toughening of his stance, the president has also announced that from today his administration will be asking for the authority to immediately repatriate minors from the Central American countries that most of them are coming from, including El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

The administration intends to ask Congress to give the Department of Homeland Security “additional authority to exercise discretion” when it comes to dealing with immigrant minors from these countries, with the request having been drafted in a letter to be sent today.

Over 52,000 unaccompanied minors have been apprehended on the US border since October and this increase has alarmed officials, particularly with some of the minors being children as young as just four or five years of age.  Anti-trafficking laws introduced by the Bush administration have hampered the administration by delaying the deportation process.