A delegation of six California lawmakers departed for Central America on Monday for a nine-day trip to discuss the immigration crisis with Central American leaders.
The delegation will visit El Salvador, Guatemala, and Panama, according to Fresno’s ABC 30. The group includes Senate President Darrell Steinberg, Assemblymember Henry T. Perea, and East Bay State Senator Ellen Corbett, along with members of the California Latino Legislative Caucus.
“Certainly immigration is a federal issue, so there’s nothing we can do there,” Perea told ABC. “But what we can do is figure out how to deal with this issue in a very humane way.”
“For me, what comes first are the kids,” Senate President Darrell Steinberg told CBS. “They’re children who are risking their lives, some who have lost their lives, trying to take a perilous journey because they want to have a better life.”
“We intend to go down as fact-finders,” he continued. “Not representing the federal government and certainly not negotiating.”
Over 50,000 unaccompanied illegal children have crossed the border since October of last year. The number of women and children in U.S. detention centers is expected to hit 90,000 by September, according to NBC.
On Monday, a group of 40 illegal immigrants was deported to their native Honduras in what the Department of Homeland Security has called an “initial wave” of deportations.
President Obama has requested $3.7 billion from Congress to deal with the humanitarian crisis at the border, but some have criticized the request’s proposed allocation of funds. $1.8 billion would be appropriated for shelter and care for illegal immigrants, while just $1.1 billion would go to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for expanded security and Border Patrol agent salaries and overtime pay.