WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is preparing to ask Congress for emergency spending of more than $2 billion to deal with the crisis of unaccompanied kids at the Southern border, but for now he won't seek legal changes to send the children back home more quickly.
That decision comes after immigration advocates objected strongly to administration proposals to speed thousands of unaccompanied minors back home to El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, where many face gang violence.
The White House insists the kids must be returned. Administration officials say they are still working on ways to do it faster, but say that the request for specific legislative changes will move on a separate track than the emergency spending request Obama is sending to Congress on Tuesday.
Obama plans to discuss the crisis with faith and local leaders during a political fundraising visit to Texas Wednesday, but he is resisting calls to visit the border for a firsthand look. The White House has invited Texas Republican Gov. Rick Perry, who is among those urging Obama to get to the border while he's in the state, to Wednesday's meeting in Dallas.
Decoupling the spending request from the contentious policy changes, which faced pushback from Obama's own political party, may give the emergency money a better chance of getting through Congress.
The decision to submit the spending request apart from the policy changes was confirmed Monday by two Capitol Hill aides who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the plan by name ahead of the formal announcement.
An administration official said the White House has already advised the congressional leadership that it wants expanded authority and said it is still seeking those policy changes. The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the request before it is announced, said the administration always intended to send the request for money separately.