The deluge of illegal immigrant children crossing the southern U.S. border is only going to get "exponentially" worse, and lawmakers need to address the situation as a regional and "hemispheric" problem, said Rep. Luis Gutierrez.
"We should look at it as a regional problem, as a hemispheric problem, as a problem of the Americas, first and foremost, that is going to exponentially get worse," the Illinois Democrat told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Tuesday.
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Officials predict up to 90,000 children could illegally cross the border into the United States by the end of September. Most are coming from the Central American countries of Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala.
The deluge of illegal immigrants is causing a burden on the border states of Texas and Arizona, and officials have been transporting children from south Texas to Arizona and leaving them at various locations, including holding centers and bus stations.
The problem is rapidly causing a humanitarian crisis,
as state officials are rushing to offer food and shelter to the children.
Gutierrez blamed "violence, the cartels, and drugs" for children fleeing their home countries. He said the "insatiable appetite that America has for drugs" was the reason for the unrest in the Central American countries the children left.
Congress needed to "depoliticize" the influx of illegal children from the immigration debate, Gutierrez said. On the other hand, he said many of the children were "coming to be reunited with their parents," a problem that could be rectified by "doing immigration reform."
"The fact is that the only children who qualify for divert action must have arrived in the United States by 2007," he said. "We have thousands of children who are already being denied access to ... deferred action."
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