House Speaker John Boehner, Ohio Republican, is the man with the magic wand when it comes to an immigration reform bill advancing in the chamber. Boehner, whose Republican peers include conservatives who will not support a measure that gives any kind of break to undocumented immigrants, has been variously open and loathe to bringing a bill for a vote that would provide a path to legal status for people who are here illegally. Most recently, he has said that President Obama cannot be trusted to enforce immigration.
Honduras President Juan Orlando Hernandez
Most of the Central Americans, including unaccompanied minors, crossing the U.S.-Mexico border in soaring numbers are from Honduras. Experts say key reasons for their exodus are gang violence that involves targeting young people, who are pressured to join or die, searing poverty and a lack of educational and economic opportunities. Honduras President Juan Orlando Hernandez recently said the United States' drug culture also is to blame. White House officials have been meeting with high-ranking political leaders in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala about the border crisis, and what all the nations affected must do to contain and eventually eliminate it.
Guatemala President Otto Perez Molina
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, left, writes as Guatemala's President Otto Perez Molina looks on. Molina has praised a border agreement between Mexico and Guatemala that is against border fences, obstacles or other difficulties to cross the border. (AP Photo/Luis Soto)
Drug cartels in Mexico are believed to have a major role in the current border crisis. Experts say they have turned an erstwhile underground smuggling operation into an intricate human trafficking network. Not only does the human trafficking bring them money -- between $8,000 to $12,000 a person smuggled -- but it also diverts border agents' attention away from drugs being smuggled into the United States.
El Salvador’s President Salvador Sanchez Ceren
El Salvador’s President Salvador Sanchez Ceren said the United States must overhaul its immigration system to help recent arrivals reunite with their U.S. family members. “Each and every one of our countries has an obligation to guarantee the rights of children and adolescents,” he said to reporters after a meeting with Vice President Joe Biden.
Protesters want the White House to scale back deportations in general and to help those found to have fled violence and persecution in their homelands to be able to stay in the United States. Others think the children should be deported immediately to stem the flow of the children being encouraged to come to the United States.
Tens of thousands of immigrants from Central American, including some 52,000 children, have crossed the U.S.-Mexico border illegally between October 2013 and June 2014, creating what the White House has called a humanitarian crisis. Many of the children who have crossed unaccompanied have told refugee resettlement workers and border officials that they fled for their lives because of violence in their homelands and threats by gang to "join or die." Many others came seeking to join relatives already in the United States. Some reportedly heard that if they reach the United States, they will be able to stay.
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson arrivies to testify before the House Committee on Homeland Security on Capitol Hill in Washington about the growing problem of unaccompanied children crossing the border into the United States. On NBC's "Meet the Press", Sunday, July 6, 2014, Johnson said that all persons regardless of age face a deportation proceeding if they enter the country illegally. The Obama administration, he said, is looking at ways to create additional options for dealing with the children in particular, consistent with our laws and our values. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)
Protesters who oppose arrivals of buses carrying largely women and children undocumented migrants for processing at the Murrieta Border Patrol Station and counter-demonstrators shove one another. Protesters have turned away buses carrying immigrants that had been apprehended in Texas and flown to California for processing as Texas deals with an influx of immigrants. Federal officials estimate more than 50,000 minors, mostly from Central America, have been caught crossing the border since October 2013. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
People in favor of more lenient immigration policies have been staging frequent protests calling on President Obama to stop the almost 1,000 daily deportations and to work harder to achieve a bill that would reform the system in a way that would provide a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Calif., left, who recently became majority leader, can play an important role in whether immigration reform, or any immigration measure at all, advances in the House.
Tackling what he has called a humanitarian crisis, President Obama on July 8, 2014 asked Congress for $3.7 billion to cope with a tide of minors from Central America who are illegally crossing the U.S. border, straining immigration resources and causing a political firestorm in Washington. Critics say the surge of minors crossing the border has been happening for at least a year in perceptible numbers, and that the Obama administration neglected to take steps to address it until it spiraled out of control. Republicans also blame Obama for initiatives on immigration they say encouraged people in Central America to risk coming here, expecting to be able to stay if they could reach the United States. Advocates for immigrants want Obama to take action on his own to allow many of the children to stay here. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)
Immigration is a perennial burning topic of debate, but the flashpoints and key players tend to change as a result of events -- some expected, and others not.