By Justin Sink
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson warned Central American parents their children would not be allowed to stay in the U.S. during a trip Friday to the southwest border.
“Our message is clear. If you come to this country illegally, we will send you back - consistent with our laws and values,” Johnson said.
Construction of the facility was firs announced on June 20, and the administration was hoping to highlight the center as evidence that it is scrambling to address the rapidly worsening humanitarian crisis.
“This facility demonstrates our commitment to building additional capacity to do this quickly, safely and humanely,” Johnson said.
The Homeland Security chief then traveled to Weslaco, Texas to meet with state and local officials. According to a statement provided by DHS, Johnson used the meeting to highlight “the importance of continued communication with state and local officials in managing this situation and a sustained and appropriately resourced response to this challenge.”
The White House on Friday urged congressional Republicans to take “urgent action” on passing President Obama’s proposed $3.7 billion supplemental funding to address the flood of unaccompanied minors.
"We have put forward what we think is a pretty commonsense proposal to address the needs that are evident, but we're open to a conversation with Republicans if they have some other suggestions," press secretary Josh Earnest said Friday.
"But again, I think the question really here is the time frame. Are Republicans going to act with a sense of urgency? Their rhetoric certainly indicates they're feeling a sense of urgency. I think the question is if they're willing to back up that rhetoric with some action."
Earlier Friday, House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers told reporters the president's $3.7 billion request was "too much," but stopped short of proposing a Republican alternative. Rogers, however, did signal the House would try to pass some sort of legislation before leaving for the August recess.
During his visit to Texas earlier this week, President Obama cited Johnson's visit to the border while defending his visit not to go there himself.
"Jeh Johnson has now visited, at my direction, the border five times," Obama said. "He’s going for a sixth this week. He then comes back and reports to me extensively on everything that's taking place. So there’s nothing that is taking place down there that I am not intimately aware of and briefed on."