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Facing a tide of unaccompanied children pouring into the U.S., the Obama administration will dispatch Vice President Joe Biden to Central America this week to make it clear they are not eligible for a path to citizenship and may be subject to deportation.
Biden will go to Guatemala on Friday at the end of a trip to South America, and will meet with government leaders from that country as well as El Salvador and Honduras, the administration said.
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The visit comes amid an influx of tens of thousands of children crossing into the United States, many of them traveling alone.
A senior White House official attributed the flood of children to violence and a lack of economic opportunity in the region. But the official also acknowledged a “misperception of U.S. immigration policy” and said Biden will emphasize that illegal immigration is unsafe and that newly arriving children are not eligible for earned citizenship in the U.S.
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“The bottom line is that it’s not worth subjecting children to a perilous journey when at the end of the day there is no light at the end of the tunnel,” the administration official said, speaking on a condition of anonymity as a matter of policy.
Critics have suggested that President Obama’s directive in 2012 to allow some undocumented immigrant children to defer deportation serves as a lure to immigrants. The directive applies only to children brought to the U.S. as minors before June 2007 — but critics charge that its encouraged illegal immigration.
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Obama has described the situation as an “urgent humanitarian effort,’ but the administration official said Biden would make it clear that while the children are fed and cared for, “unaccompanied immigrant minors are still going through removal proceedings, just like anyone that crosses the border without proper documentation.”
Most of the children appearing on the border are...
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