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Portman Weighs In On Surge Of Unaccompanied Central American Minors Crossing U.S. border


The presidents of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras will come to Washington next week to discuss the surge of unaccompanied minors from their countries across the U.S border.  The White House says Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina, Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez, and El Salvadoran President Salvador Sanchez Ceren will meet with President Obama and Vice President Biden on Friday. The U.S. has been urging their governments to take steps to stem the exodus of children and warning that the U.S. will take steps to send them back promptly. The President's request to Congress for 3.7 billion dollars in emergency spending contains 300 million to help the Central American government repatriate and reintegrate migrants that are sent back. Republican U.S. Senator Rob Portman of Ohio says the crisis requires a clear message to the home countries of the children. Joanna Richards of member station WCPN in Cleveland reports.

Portman calls the flood of child migrants a humanitarian crisis. He says violence and poverty in Central America are part of the problem – but so is widespread misunderstanding of U.S. law.

So, he says, the U.S. needs to counter those ideas with a different message:

Portman (0:08): We have an immigration system that does not permit, you know, kids to walk across the border, claim citizenship, and bring their families. That’s not how it works.

Portman says many migrants believe they will be able to stay in the country because they have false impressions of policies meant to protect sex trafficking victims, and ease life for young people already here.

The senator appeared at The City Club of Cleveland, where he was speaking about his anti-poverty agenda.

He says he also supports President Obama’s request for funding to deal with the immediate humanitarian crisis at the border, and some expansion of foreign aid.


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