Obama and Texas Governor Perry agree on border force

President Obama: "Is Congress prepared to act to put the resources in place to get this done?"

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US President Barack Obama has backed Republican Texas Governor Rick Perry on recommendations for improving security on the US-Mexico border.

While visiting the state, Mr Obama said he had no "philosophical objection" to increasing the number of border patrol agents and repositioning them.

But Mr Obama said such action was held up by Congress' delay in approving his request for extra funding.

The White House asked for $3.7bn (£2.2bn) in extra funding on Tuesday.

"Congress has the capacity to work with all parties concerned to directly address this situation," Mr Obama told reporters.

Two young girls at the US Customs and Border Protection Nogales Placement Center in Nogales, Arizona 18 June 2014 More than 50,000 unaccompanied children have been caught crossing illegally between October and June

The Democratic president met the Republican governor and local leaders on Wednesday to discuss an immigration crisis at the southern border.

'Challenge'

More than 50,000 unaccompanied children - most from Central America - have been caught trying to cross illegally between October and 15 June.

President Obama urged parents in Central America not to send unaccompanied children on the dangerous journey through Mexico to try to enter the United States.

"Parents need to know this is an incredibly dangerous situation and it is unlikely that their children will be able to stay," the president said.

Start Quote

I'm not interested in photo ops, I'm interested in solving the problem”

End Quote Barack Obama President of the United States

Mr Obama said Mr Perry's plan regarding enhanced border security "sounded like it made sense", adding that resources for such efforts would be available should Congress approve the supplemental funding package he put forth.

The emergency funding would include money for the hiring of 40 extra immigration judge teams, drone surveillance of the border, medical services and transportation costs, expanding a border security task force in Central America and overtime for border patrol workers.

"The challenge is, is Congress prepared to act to put the resources in place to get this done?" he asked.

Following their meeting, Mr Perry put much of the onus for fixing the "national security crises occurring along the Texas-Mexico border" on Mr Obama, however.

"Five hundred miles south of here in the Rio Grande Valley there is a humanitarian crisis unfolding that has been created by bad public policy, in particular the failure to secure the border," Mr Perry wrote in a statement.

"Securing the border is attainable, and the president needs to commit the resources necessary to get this done," he added.

Mr Obama's additional funding request follows months of political gridlock over a wide-reaching bill to overhaul the immigration system.

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Where the $3.7bn will go
  • $1.8bn to provide the appropriate care for unaccompanied children
  • $1.1bn on detention and removal programmes
  • $433m on border patrol and security
  • $300m to Central American countries to repatriate and tackle root causes
  • $64m on immigration courts, including hiring 40 additional judge teams

Source: White House

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On Wednesday, the US leader also addressed criticism from members of both the Democratic and Republican parties about not visiting the border personally during a primarily political fundraising trip to the southern state, which shares a lengthy border with Mexico.

"I'm not interested in photo ops, I'm interested in solving the problem," Mr Obama said.

"There is nothing taking place down there that I am not intimately aware of and briefed on," he added, noting he had tasked Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson with visiting the area six times.

Meanwhile, US media report the White House is pursuing a separate legislative action to speed up deportation processes.

The administration has told Congress it was seeking "additional authority" to allow the Homeland Security secretary to more quickly return the minors back home.

But immigration advocates fear this means children would lose the automatic right to a hearing before an immigration judge, and instead would have to go through an initial screening with US Border Patrol.

More than 200 groups signed a letter last week calling on Mr Obama to reconsider.

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