July 30 (Bloomberg) -- California Governor Jerry Brown said a flood of immigrant children reaching the U.S.-Mexico border requires a humanitarian solution, not a military one.
Brown spoke yesterday in Mexico City, eight days after Texas Governor Rick Perry, a Republican, said he’d send as many as 1,000 National Guard troops to help secure his state’s southern border.
“I don’t think this is a military problem,” said Brown, a 76-year-old Democrat, who is in Mexico on a trade mission. Congress, he said, should “work for more decent, humanitarian solutions.”
About 57,000 unaccompanied minors, most from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, have crossed the U.S. border illegally since October. The political battle over what to do with the children, ages 3 to 17, has complicated the debate over U.S. immigration, which already had Democrats and Republicans stuck on a legislative response.
Perry, 64, said he was calling up the National Guard to protect Texans by stopping drug smugglers and criminals from entering the U.S.
Lucy Nashed, a spokeswoman for Perry, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on Brown’s remarks left after regular business hours.
Brown, whose state has the largest Hispanic population in the U.S., spoke after meeting with Central American religious and diplomatic leaders and Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Horacio Gomez. The prelate is the highest-ranking Hispanic bishop in the U.S., according to the archdiocese.
Gomez, the spiritual leader of about five million Roman Catholics in southern California, said the U.S. should stop deportations until there is comprehensive immigration reform.
The White House and Congress have been debating President Barack Obama’s request for $3.7 billion in emergency funding to address the surge in child migrants, including about $300 million in foreign assistance.
Brown said that if a fraction of the spending on border security was devoted to Central America, it would go further to solve the problem. The governor didn’t propose a figure.
The governor said he supports additional shelters in California to deal with the flow of unaccompanied minors. Some children are now staying in temporary facilities at Naval Base Ventura County-Port Hueneme, according to the U.S. Health and Human Services Department.
The wave of minors has overwhelmed processing centers, shelters, courts and social-service agencies.
Returning the immigrant children is complicated by a 2008 law that gave legal protection to youths from countries that don’t directly border the U.S. The measure, intended to guard against human trafficking, requires placing them in protective custody and granting them court hearings and a lawyer.