President Barack Obama is seeking $3.7 billion from Congress, to better respond to the influx of refugees illegally crossing the border into Texas, White House officials said Tuesday.
The money would strengthen border security and speed up the deportation process, go after smugglers (called 'Coyotes' who bring foreign children illegally to the United States), improve care for youngsters while in federal custody, and help Central American countries stem the tide heading north, the officials told reporters in a conference call, according to multiple sources.
Also this week, Texas Governor Rick Perry called for National Guard troops to be sent to the U.S.-Mexico border to help stem the surge from entering the United States, most of whom are trying to escape harsh conditions in their home countries.
On Sunday the governor sharply criticized the Obama administration for not moving more quickly to address the problem. Perry, like other Republicans, blame Obama's policies for the sharp increase in crossings.
"They either are inept or don't care," he told ABC News.
More than 52,000 unaccompanied minors from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras have been caught trying to sneak over the U.S.-Mexico border since October, double the number from the same period the year before. Thousands more have been apprehended with parents or other adults, with the amount of people being detained putting a severe weight on an already overburdened system.
Obama announced last week that he would 'go alone' on tackling the issue, after legislation stalled in the GOP led House of Representatives.
Many are fleeing extreme poverty, gangs and drug violence, as well as responding to rumors spread by Coyotes like advertising, that children who reach the U.S. border will be allowed to stay.
According to people like Pastor John Feagins, from La Trinidad Church in San Antonio, most of the people are Christians, and are trying to do a good thing, or are seeking a safer land, the way Moses and God's people in the Bible escaped Egypt.
"The crisis at our border is not a national security issue. For the refugee it is a life or death issue, a family integrity issue, a freedom issue. For our egalitarian, democratic and free society, it is a moral integrity issue," he wrote in a letter to the Gospel Herald.
Others, like Ruben Harrison, the associate pastor at Primera Iglesia Bautista, the Oldest hispanic Baptist congregation in Texas, established in 1883, see that America has played a big hand in this issue already, and he feels obligated to do what he can to help those suffering because of the crisis. He blames an old enemy, drugs, and says that as the crackdown on the Cartels in Mexico continues, they will be pushed south, and displace more and more people along the way.
He feels that until the US gets a handle on the drug problem, we can expect more of this.
"Loredo is like a present day Antioch, we are at a crossroads. we are the gateway, " He said, drawing biblical comparisons.
Harrison says you can go to the bus station on any given day and find hundreds of single moms and their kids waiting to catch a bus to find family already somewhere else in America.
Like Pastor Feagins, Pastor Harrison feels drawn to help the refugees because of Christian compassion for a fellow human being. He says you have to be careful though, becuase the law will only allow so much kindness.
"If you watch the main stream news, you get the feeling these are hardened, evil people meant to do us harm, but that is not the case," Feagins said. "These are the good people, who are trying to escape the bad people and harsh conditions where they are from."