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September 22, 2017

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House passes border crisis bill; Obama vows to act alone

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Congress has passed two measures to stem the flow of Central American children into the United States despite the strong objections of U.S. President Barack Obama, who vowed to address the crisis unilaterally.

The Republican-controlled House of Representatives late Friday approved allocating US$694 million (517 million euros) to deal with the influx of minors into the United States from Mexico. The measure was approved 223-189.

The amount is much less than the US$3.7 billion Obama requested to ease what he has called an "urgent humanitarian situation."

The House measure would increase funding for the Border Patrol and the National Guard, increase the number of immigration judges, and change a 2008 anti-trafficking law so the child migrants can be whisked home without deportation hearings.

House speaker John Boehner described the measure as "a responsible bill" that will "help secure our border and ensure the safe and swift return of these children to their home countries."

If Obama "needs these resources, he will urge Senate Democrats to put politics aside, come back to work and approve our bill," Boehner said.

The House also passed a measure gutting the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, a 2012 Obama administration scheme protecting young people who came to the United States illegally as children and who grew up in the country. The bill was approved 216-192.

In a statement, the White House said the bill could result in the deportation of hundreds of thousands of such youths, describing them as "Americans in every way but on paper."

House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi called the vote "unconscionable."

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