WH: No change to immigrant surge strategy ‘at this point’

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The White House is not planning to reassess its strategy for handling thousands of unaccompanied minors streaming across the border amid mass protests.

{mosads}White House press secretary Josh Earnest said he had not spoken to President Obama about protests in California that blocked buses full of immigrant detainees from reaching a processing station. But Earnest said there was no expectation of changing strategies to deal with the flood of minors “at this point.”

“At this point, what we’re focused on is making sure that we can ramp up the resources that are necessary to meet this growing need,” Earnest said.

On Tuesday, more than 100 protesters blocked three buses with immigrant detainees who had recently crossed the Texas border from entering a processing facility in Murrieta, Calif. The government had planned to process the immigrants before releasing them to family members throughout the country, ahead of a deportation proceeding.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Virginia Kice told the Los Angeles Times the agency was seeking to address concerns raised by the protesters but declined to say whether the Murrieta facility would still be used.

“At this point, due to safety and security considerations … we are not providing any further information,” Kice said.

The White House has asked for additional funding from Congress for a surge of immigration judges, attorneys and asylum officials to help more quickly address the flood of migrants.

Earnest would not say whether Obama planned to visit the border during his trip next week to Texas, but he noted senior administration officials, including Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell and Domestic Policy Council Director Cecelia Muñoz have all visited in recent weeks.

Gov. Rick Perry (R-Texas) wrote the president last month asking him to visit and survey where the thousands of immigrant children had crossed into the U.S.

“Those individuals who are concerned about border security and concerned about the situation at the border, that the most important thing they could do is not offer public invitations, but actually to lend their public support to comprehensive immigration reform,” Earnest said. “Those people who are focused on border security understand that passing comprehensive immigration reform would allow for a historic investment in our borders. And that’s one of the many reasons the president has strongly advocated for Congress to make progress on that.”

On Monday, Obama announced he would seek to take action on immigration reform unilaterally after Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) informed him the GOP did not plan to vote on legislation this year.

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