President Barack Obama is asking Congress for $3.7 billion to address an immigration crisis that has seen tens of thousands of unaccompanied children from Central America cross illegally into the United States.
White House officials said Tuesday the emergency spending request includes $1.6 billion for border enforcement, detention and prosecution of smugglers transporting migrants.
President Obama is asking for another $1.8 billion for the Department of Health and Human Services to provide care for migrants while they are in the U.S. and another $300 million for the State Department.
Officials say the funding for the State Department would support Central American nations in repatriating the migrants, in addition to providing help with security and economic development to address the countries' problems with violence and instability -- conditions driving people to flee. The money would also go toward public media campaigns in Mexico and other countries on the dangers of traveling to the U.S.
Obama is separately asking for Congress to give Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson new authority to speed up the process of sending the minors back home.
The president travels to Texas Wednesday, where he has no plans to visit the border but will discuss the crisis with local officials.
Most of the more than 50,000 children who have crossed into the United States since October are from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. Many of them left to escape poverty and violence in their nations, but they also have been drawn to the U.S. by rumors that they will be allowed to stay.
The White House has declared the situation a humanitarian crisis, accusing smuggling networks of exploiting the migrants.
The issue has reignited the political debate over immigration in the U.S., with Republicans saying the president's moves to ease immigration rules have encouraged Central Americans to make the risky trip to the U.S.
Obama puts the blame, though, on Republican lawmakers for refusing to pass legislation to reform the U.S. immigration system, which he and other officials have labeled "broken."
The president now says he plans to act without Congress, taking executive action to improve the system.