No easy solutions for child migrant crisis

US President Barack Obama delivers a statement on the urgent humanitarian situation following his meeting with local elected officials and faith leaders on July 9, 2014 in Dallas, Texas. Obama requested $3.7 billion in emergency funding from Congress to help cope with a surge of unaccompanied child immigrants from Central America.

President Obama is set to meet with the Presidents of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador Friday to talk about the influx of young migrants crossing our borders. Officials estimate 57,000 have made it to the US since late last year -- Most are teenagers. It’s a big increase over years past.  

The unaccompanied children come to flee poverty, gangs, and drug cartels. There are more migrants than cots for them to sleep on.   

“There’s lots more that can be done to beef up border enforcement. But the real long term solution is to address the main drivers of migration,” says Cindy Arnson, director of the Latin American program at the Woodrow Wilson Center.  

Those drivers include ineffective institutions, poor security, and lack of opportunity. 

The President has asked Congress for $3.7 billion to deal with the immediate issue. Most of that appropriation would go to border enforcement and immigration courts. 

Arnson expects Latin American leaders to say the U.S. has a shared responsibility in solving the crisis.

“The smart answer to this situation is to address the root causes in a sustained and smart way with foreign policy and economic policy,” says Karen Musalo, director of the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies at the UC Hastings College of the Law. 

She hopes the conversation is candid and honest between the leaders.

But it’s up to Congress to decide whether it will approve anything at all before it heads off for Summer recess. 

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