White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest argued Friday that the Obama administration has made great strides to confront the crisis of unaccompanied minors illegally entering the United States.
“For now,” Earnest told reporters when asked if the crisis of unaccompanied minors at the border is over, given the recent downturn in apprehensions at the border.
“But what we have seen, Jim, is that these numbers [of unaccompanied minors apprehended at the southern border] are very volatile, and that there are important steps that this administration is taking to try to prevent those numbers from going back up,” he said.
Earnest expressed dismay that Congress did not allocate the additional funds Obama requested this summer to deal with the crisis.
“This is a problem, that while the numbers have improved – and we’re certainly pleased about this – [it] is a problem that we still remain very focused on, because this has been a very volatile situation, because that number has on some occasions spiked,” he said.
Earnest explained that the Obama administration is still working diplomatically with Central American countries and Mexico to deal with the problem, as well as moving interior resources to the border.
“The President is still using his own executive authority to devote additional resources to the immigration courts so we can make sure we can both respect the due process to which these individuals are entitled, while at the same time we’re making sure the wheels of justice turn efficiently,” he said.
Earnest acknowledge that the decline in the number of apprehensions could also be due to the weather, as traditionally the level of illegal immigration declines with the hot summer.
“I don’t want to leave with the impression that it is only because of what the administration has done that we have seen these numbers go down. There are a variety of factors, but there is no doubt that the administration has made a substantial contribution to the reduction in those numbers,” he said.