POLITICS

White House Says Number Of Kids Crossing Border Down Sharply: Just 150 In Two Weeks

Central Americans ride a freight train toward the U.S.-Mexico border, on July 12, 2014.

Central Americans ride a freight train toward the U.S.-Mexico border, on July 12, 2014.  (AP)

The White House says the number of unaccompanied minors from Central America who are crossing the border is down sharply.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest says a daily average of about 150 children were apprehended along the Rio Grande border in the first two weeks of July. He says that's down from an average of 355 per day in June.

President Barack Obama plans to meet Friday with the presidents of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, the three countries that are home to many of the children.

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.

Earnest said the reason for the decline in crossings was not yet known, according to The Hill, but he speculated that efforts by the Obama administration to get the message to people in Central America that risking the dangerous illegal trip to the United States would likely end in deportation was dissuading many from coming.

The White House recently asked Congress to pass a $3.7 billion supplemental immigration request it unveiled earlier this month aimed at addressing the influx from Central America. Some 60,000 unaccompanied children have crossed the border since October, and tens of thousands of others also have come illegally.

Many refugee resettlement workers who have spoken to many of the children say they are largely fleeing poverty and violence and harassment by gangs in their homelands to "join or die." But many lawmakers who want the United States to send back the immigrants as quickly as possible say that many have come believing that it is now easier than ever to be able to gain legal status here.

The Hill quoted Earnest as saying that despite the drop in crossings, “efforts to support deterrence, address the root causes of migration and build our capacity to provide the appropriate care for unaccompanied children and adults traveling with children” remained “critical to managing the situation.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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