Heated immigration debate continues - Fox 2 News Headlines

Heated immigration debate continues

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

More than 52,000 unaccompanied children and 39,000 women with children have been apprehended trying to cross the United States' southern border this year.

Many of them were fleeing gangs and drug violence in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. That has created chaos at detention facilities unable to handle the human flood.

Now, President Obama is asking congress for $3.7 billion in emergency money to speed up the process of figuring out who gets to stay and who is sent home.

"These children who have been apprehended will go through the immigration court process. And if they are found not to have a legal basis for remaining in this country, they'll be returned," said White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest.

Katherine Kaufka Walts heads the center for the human rights of children at Loyola University.

"They’re seeking safety. They’re seeking sanctuary. And they are children that deserve protection," said Walts.

She said that the United States has a moral and legal obligation to provide sanctuary for many of the children and mothers crossing the border.

"This is a humanitarian crisis. This is a human rights issue. This is a children's rights issue. This isn't about illegal aliens. It’s about vulnerable children," Walts added.

Also, a Chicago immigrant's rights group Monday, led by Congressman Luis Gutierrez, called on President Obama to use his executive powers to break the gridlock over immigration reform.

A reform bill passed by the Senate last year has languished in the House, being blocked by conservatives.

"We say to the president of the United States, you said last week that we were right, that negotiations have failed. Issue the executive orders immediately. There are too many families that have no time to wait," Gutierrez said.

Republicans have threatened to sue the President if he uses his executive authority for immigration, calling it a flagrant violation of the constitution.

The President's response: “So sue me.”

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