President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and members of Congress are scheduled to meet with several leaders from Central American countries this Friday, July 25, to discuss the immigration crisis. Chief among the conversational matters to be discussed during the meeting in Washington, D.C., is how to handle the massive influx of unaccompanied immigrant children. Since October 2013, over 52,000 children traveling without parents or guardians have been detained while attempting to cross the Southwest border between the U.S. and Mexico.
One of the Central American leaders who will be in attendance, Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez, has spoken during several interviews about how he believes the United States should handle these children. As Hernandez indicated to Time magazine, he feels that America has a great deal of responsibility to navigate the situation, asserting that the demand for illicit substances stateside is one of the primary factors fueling the crisis.
“In the United States, many officials see the drug problem as basically one of health, as how much it costs to treat an addict and stop them getting involved. But for us it is life and death. That is the difference,” Hernandez told the source. “This is a problem they generate, I repeat, because of the connection between the drugs they consume in enormous quantities in the United States that are produced in the south and pass through Central America, generating violence, generating this migratory flow.”
In addition to discussing the impact that the drug trade has had on immigration out of Central America, Obama and the Central American leaders are expected to speak on the conditions migrant children are facing while being processed by the Department of Health and Human Services. The unprecedented influx of children has left officials scrambling to house them all, resulting in a call from the federal government to state Governors to take groups of children and provide them with shelter, food and clothing until more permanent arrangements can be made.