Obama Tells Central American Leaders To Be Ready To Receive Deported Immigrants

In a meeting at the White House Friday, President Barack Obama advised the leaders of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador to be ready to receive and repatriate immigrants from their countries whom the United States deports.

Obama said the U.S. and the other presidents' countries all have to deter the flow of children across the border because the young people are putting themselves and their families at risk.

But he also thanked the presidents for their efforts so far.

"Initial reports show that our joint efforts appear to be paying off," Obama said.

In a joint statement released by the White House after the meeting, the presidents pledged to continue to "pursue the criminal networks that are exploiting this uniquely vulnerable population."

"We agreed on the need to discourage the use of smuggling networks that place individuals at high risk of violent crime and sexual abuse along the journey. We reviewed and agreed to redouble our joint efforts to counter misinformation about U.S. immigration policy," the statement read.

While the presidents were meeting, five different groups of protesters headed by the Guatemala Human Rights Commission stood outside the White House, under the blazing sun, chanting pro-human rights songs in favor of unaccompanied children seeking refuge in the U.S. southwest border.

Little did they know they were in for a surprise, as Guatemala's President Otto Pérez Molina, after the meeting, broke security protocol, drove toward the group and stepped out from his black armored limousine to give statements to reporters, including Fox News Latino's.

“We leave very satisfied knowing that we can move forward and that we´ll be able to tackle the underlying problems,” he said.

In regard to the U.S. granting refugee status to some of the children, a possibility that was mentioned by White House officials Thursday night, Pérez Molina said it's not an option for his people.

“There will not be a special status for Guatemala at this time ... President Obama's position on this subject is that this has to be dealt with as a humanitarian mission and human rights must be respected," he said.

"The process to make sure the children end up with their families will be expedited, but those children without families [in the U.S.] and that judges find can't stay, will have to leave," he added. "The rule of law will be respected.”

Pérez Molina welcomed President Obama’s request to Congress for additional assistance to support the U.S. response to the increased migration.

"President Obama asked Congress to approve the $295 million funds aimed to help the three countries, before they leave on vacation, to better care of the children is improved,” he said.

According to the AP, the Guatemalan president said Obama asked for two approaches — that the region work with the U.S. to resolve the immediate crisis and also that it develop a medium- and long-term plan to prevent such a flight of migrants in the future.

He said Obama also asked that their countries be prepared to receive and repatriate migrants who are returned from the U.S. border.

While citing progress in addressing the flow, he called on House Republicans to act on his request for emergency spending. With one week left before Congress' August recess, Republicans were trying to unite behind a plan that would spend about one-fourth of what Obama requested.

"It is my hope that Speaker Boehner and House Republicans will not leave town for the month of August for their vacations without doing something to help solve this problem," Obama said. "We need action and less talk"

Obama's demand for congressional action came as GOP lawmakers said they were attempting to coalesce behind a narrow package of changes including sending National Guard troops to the border, increasing the number of U.S. immigration judges and changing a law so that migrant youths arriving by the tens of thousands could be sent home more quickly. The package would cost less than $1 billion, several lawmakers said, far less than the $3.7 billion Obama requested to deal with the crisis.

A number of Republicans exiting a special meeting on the issue in the Capitol said they had to act before leaving Washington late next week for their annual August recess.

"It would be a terrible message; leave town in August without having done anything, knowing that it's going to create even more of a crisis on the border," said Rep. Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania. "Doing nothing in my view means that these children will be sent from the border back to communities like mine."

Ninoska Marcano and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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