Last week, President Obama and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released statements on a plan to address an increase in unaccompanied immigrant children at the southwest border of the United States. The statements are in response to the “urgent humanitarian situation” caused by the recent influx of children.
President Obama directed the Secretary of Homeland Security to establish an inter-agency “Unified Coordination Group” to “ensure unity of effort across the executive branch in responding to the humanitarian aspects of the situation.” DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson appointed Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Craig Fugate as the Federal Coordinating Official. In this role, Administrator Fugate will “lead and coordinate Federal response efforts to ensure that Federal agencies are unified in providing relief to the affected children.” U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will continue to be primarily responsible for border security and will work with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to provide for the proper care of unaccompanied children while in DHS custody. The announcements provide that humanitarian care to the unaccompanied immigrant children will include including housing, medical treatment, transportation, and other care.
Secretary Johnson also stated the U.S. is working with the governments of Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador to help counter the recent influx.