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Obama to discuss immigration crisis with Central American leaders

Posted at 8:22 AM, Jul 19, 2014
and last updated 2014-07-19 08:22:51-04

WASHINGTON (CNN) — The White House announced Friday that leaders from three Central American countries will meet with President Obama next week to discuss the ongoing immigration crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Obama will hold talks with President Otto Perez Molina of Guatemala, President Juan Orlando Hernandez of Honduras, and President Salvador Sanchez Ceren of El Salvador on July 25.

“The four leaders and Vice President Biden will discuss how to reinforce our ongoing collaboration to stem the flow of undocumented migrants from Central America to Mexico and the United States,” read a statement from the White House.

“This will include discussion of how the United States and Central American governments are cooperating to promote safe, legal, and orderly migration between our countries in a spirit of shared responsibility, including with respect to the return of family units, which began this week for all three countries,” the statement continued.

Close to 60,000 mostly unaccompanied children from Central America have crossed the U.S. border since the beginning of the year, and the administration has been grappling with how to deal with the influx.

Obama has faced criticism from Republicans in Congress — who say he should enforce U.S. immigration laws, and ship the children home to stem the flow – and immigration activists, who have dubbed him the “deporter in chief” for authorizing flights for some children back to their home countries.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Monday some of the unaccompanied minors who have arrived in the United States from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala this year may ultimately be allowed to stay in the country, if they can qualify for asylum.

Migrants from Central America and other non-contiguous nations are granted special legal protections that allow them to plead their case to an immigration court, under a 2008 law designed to prevent human trafficking.

“If an immigration judge determines that they face a credible threat of death upon their return to their home country, then again, I’m not an immigration judge, but it is likely that the immigration judge will find that that person should be granted humanitarian relief,” Earnest said