US & Canada

Obama shifts resources to US border

A steel border fence separates Nogales, Arizona, from its sister city in Sonora, Mexico 25 June 2014 Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The border fence between Nogales, Arizona and Sonora, Mexico

President Barack Obama has directed immigration resources towards the US border with Mexico.

The US president announced he will use his own powers to "fix as much of our broken immigration system as we can".

The move comes as Republicans told Mr Obama a sweeping immigration bill passed by the Senate last year will not see a vote in the House this year.

The US has seen a sharp increase in number of children trying to cross illegally into the US.

From October 2013 to 15 June, 52,000 unaccompanied children arrived on the US border with Mexico, according to the US Homeland Security department.

Speaking at the White House on Monday, Mr Obama said this "humanitarian crisis" showed why he could not "stand by and do nothing".

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Many of the recent arrivals are from further south in Central America

The Senate bill, passed in a 68-32 vote, includes a path to citizenship for an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants, billions in new funding for border security and a start-up visa for foreign entrepreneurs.

The shift in border resources will effectively mean more deportations for those who have recently crossed the US border illegally or who are considered dangerous, but fewer deportations for those in the interior of the country.

In addition to the transfer of staffing south, Mr Obama said he was directing the secretary of homeland security and the US attorney general to come up with recommendations about what he could do within his presidential powers to improve the US immigration system.

Those recommendations are expected to be delivered by the end of summer.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption "I've sent a clear message to parents in these countries not to put their kids through this," Mr Obama said of the increased number of children arriving at the US border unaccompanied

"I take executive action only when we have a serious problem, a serious issue, and Congress chooses to do nothing," said Mr Obama.

Mr Obama laid the blame for a lack of an immigration vote on the Republican leadership, saying there were members of the opposing party in both chambers who were willing to compromise on a solution.

A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner confirmed no vote would be forthcoming.

"Speaker Boehner told the president exactly what he has been telling him - the American people and their elected officials don't trust him to enforce the law as written," Michael Steel said.

"Until that changes, it is going to be difficult to make progress on this issue."

More on this story