WASHINGTON — President Obama is requesting almost $4 billion in emergency funding from Congress to confront an immigration crisis from a wave of unaccompanied children surging across the southern border of the United States, White House officials said Tuesday.
The financial request, which is almost twice as much as officials had previously signaled might be necessary, would boost spending on border patrol agents, immigration judges, aerial surveillance, and new detention facilities. Nearly half of the money would be used to improve care for the children while they are moved through the deportation process.
“We are taking steps to protect due process but also to remove these migrants more efficiently,” a White House official said Tuesday morning. “We are taking an aggressive approach on both sides of the border.”
The decision to ask Congress for more money comes as Mr. Obama leaves for Texas on Tuesday on a previously scheduled trip that involves political fund-raising and events focused on the middle class and the economy.
Mr. Obama is not scheduled to travel to the border during his visit, but he has offered to meet privately with Governor Rick Perry, after Mr. Perry declined a photo-op handshake with the president in front of Air Force One when Mr. Obama arrives.
In a letter Mr. Perry sent to the White House on Monday afternoon, he rejected “a quick handshake on the tarmac,” but offered to meet with Mr. Obama “at any time” for a “substantive meeting to discuss this critical issue.”
White House officials said Tuesday morning they had not received an “RSVP” from Mr. Perry in response to the invitation from Valerie Jarrett, a senior White House adviser.
The delicate negotiations over a meeting between the two leaders highlights the high stakes for politicians as they deal with the crisis of huge numbers of unaccompanied children from Central America crossing into the United States from Mexico in recent months.