WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said Tuesday the United States is sending more agents to the border with Mexico to help deal with a flood of undocumented children, mostly from Central America, crossing into the United States.
One hundred and fifteen experienced agents have been sent from less active areas to the Rio Grande Valley, and a further 150 may join them, based on a review of operations there last week, Johnson said in testimony prepared for a congressional hearing on Tuesday.
In the fiscal year through September 2013, U.S. agents picked up more than 24,000 unaccompanied children at the southern border.
From October to mid-June this year, that number more than doubled to over 52,000, and U.S. authorities have been grappling with how best to deal with the crisis.
“We are talking about large numbers of children, without their parents, who have arrived at our border – hungry, thirsty, exhausted, scared and vulnerable. How we treat the children, in particular, is a reflection of our laws and our values,” Johnson said in his testimony.
(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Additional reporting by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Bernadette Baum)