Obama to Central American Presidents: Illegal Immigrants Will Get 'Fair Deal'

During a Friday meeting, President Barack Obama assured the presidents of El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala that illegal immigrant juveniles from their countries will get a "fair deal" in America's courts.

Obama said he had "great compassion for these children" and wanted "to make sure that they are cared for the way all children should be cared for." According to the White House, Obama also told the presidents that he has asked for more resources for 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."

The Obama administration has released at least 30,000 illegal immigrant children to sponsors across the country this year. They were released with "notices to appear" in court, and some illegal immigrants are being issued court dates two years from now. It may take another two years for their cases to be resolved. During this time, the illegal immigrants can enroll in schools, and their ability to remain in the United States with no consequences has fueled rumors in Central America that migrants will receive "permisos" that will allow them to indefinitely remain in the country. The Obama administration has asked for millions of dollars to provide illegal immigrant juveniles, nearly 90% of whom are teenagers, with lawyers they believe will ensure their due process rights.

But Obama also said he emphasized that "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 said he reminded Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez, Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina, and El Salvadoran President Salvador Sanchez Ceren 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" and "do more to address the root causes of the problem, and that includes poverty and violence in Central America."

In a joint statement, the presidents said they "reiterated ... commitment to prevent families and children from undertaking this dangerous journey and to work together to promote safe, legal, and orderly migration." They also stated that they "pledged to continue to pursue the criminal networks that are exploiting this uniquely vulnerable population." They pledged to "redouble [their] joint efforts to counter misinformation about U.S. immigration policy" that became more pronounced after President Obama enacted his temporary amnesty program for certain illegal immigrants. Furthermore, they "committed to work together on the ongoing efforts to humanely repatriate migrants, consistent with due process."

According to the White House, the United States is "providing an additional $9.6 million in additional resources to support and expand repatriation center capacity" and is "working to increase its support for Central America, beginning with $300 million in foreign assistance in the emergency supplemental request sent to Congress."

Nearly 60,000 illegal immigrant children have been apprehended at the border since October of last year, 75% being from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.


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