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Obama urging Central American leaders for help

  • House Rules Committee Chairman, Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, July 25, 2014, as he emerges from a closed-door session with fellow Republicans. President Barack Obama will urge Central American leaders to help slow the influx of unaccompanied children fleeing their countries for the United States, even as Congress remains deeply divided over proposals to stem the crisis at the border.(AP Photo)

    House Rules Committee Chairman, Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, July 25, 2014, as he emerges from a closed-door session with fellow Republicans. President Barack Obama will urge Central American leaders to help slow the influx of unaccompanied children fleeing their countries for the United States, even as Congress remains deeply divided over proposals to stem the crisis at the border.(AP Photo)

  • Rep. Kay Granger, R-Texas, is surrounded by reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, July 25, 2014, as she emerges from a closed-door session with fellow Republicans. President Barack Obama will urge Central American leaders to help slow the influx of unaccompanied children fleeing their countries for the United States, even as Congress remains deeply divided over proposals to stem the crisis at the border.   (AP Photo)

    Rep. Kay Granger, R-Texas, is surrounded by reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, July 25, 2014, as she emerges from a closed-door session with fellow Republicans. President Barack Obama will urge Central American leaders to help slow the influx of unaccompanied children fleeing their countries for the United States, even as Congress remains deeply divided over proposals to stem the crisis at the border. (AP Photo)

  • Unidentified men pull a raft to shore on the Mexico side of the Rio Grand, Thursday, July 24, 2014, in Mission, Texas. Texas is spending $1.3 million a week for a bigger DPS presence along the border. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, Pool)

    Unidentified men pull a raft to shore on the Mexico side of the Rio Grand, Thursday, July 24, 2014, in Mission, Texas. Texas is spending $1.3 million a week for a bigger DPS presence along the border. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, Pool)

  • A Customs and Border Protection vehicle patrols on the Texas border near the Rio Grande, Thursday, July 24, 2014, in Mission, Texas. Texas is spending $1.3 million a week for a bigger DPS presence along the border. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, Pool)

    A Customs and Border Protection vehicle patrols on the Texas border near the Rio Grande, Thursday, July 24, 2014, in Mission, Texas. Texas is spending $1.3 million a week for a bigger DPS presence along the border. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, Pool)

  • House Rules Committee Chairman, Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, July 25, 2014, as he emerges from a closed-door session with fellow Republicans. President Barack Obama will urge Central American leaders to help slow the influx of unaccompanied children fleeing their countries for the United States, even as Congress remains deeply divided over proposals to stem the crisis at the border.(AP Photo)
  • Rep. Kay Granger, R-Texas, is surrounded by reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, July 25, 2014, as she emerges from a closed-door session with fellow Republicans. President Barack Obama will urge Central American leaders to help slow the influx of unaccompanied children fleeing their countries for the United States, even as Congress remains deeply divided over proposals to stem the crisis at the border.   (AP Photo)
  • Unidentified men pull a raft to shore on the Mexico side of the Rio Grand, Thursday, July 24, 2014, in Mission, Texas. Texas is spending $1.3 million a week for a bigger DPS presence along the border. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, Pool)
  • A Customs and Border Protection vehicle patrols on the Texas border near the Rio Grande, Thursday, July 24, 2014, in Mission, Texas. Texas is spending $1.3 million a week for a bigger DPS presence along the border. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, Pool)

President Obama met with Central American leaders yesterday to urge them to help slow the stream of unaccompanied children from their countries to the U.S., as House Republicans tried to agree on their own proposed solution to the crisis at the Mexican border.

GOP lawmakers said they were attempting to unite behind a narrow package of changes including sending National Guard troops to the border, increasing the number of U.S. immigration judges and changing a law so that migrant youths arriving by the tens of thousands could be sent home more quickly.

The package would cost less than $1 billion, several lawmakers said, far less than the $3.7 billion Obama requested to deal with the crisis.

Several Republicans exiting a special meeting on the issue in the Capitol said they had to act before leaving Washington late next week for their annual August recess.

“It would be a terrible message; leave town in August without having done anything, knowing that it’s going to create even more of a crisis on the border,” said Rep. Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania. “Doing nothing in my view means that these children will be sent from the border back to communities like mine.”

Yet some conservative lawmakers remained skeptical about taking any action. “The acceptable spending level is zero,” said Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas.

And with Senate Democrats opposed to policy changes to return the children quickly without judicial hearings, it looked highly unlikely that a deal could be struck to send a bill to Obama’s desk before August.

Yesterday’s White House meeting with the presidents of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador came as the administration considered creating a pilot program giving refugee status to young people from Honduras.

White House officials said the plan would involve screening youths in their home countries to determine whether they qualify for refugee status. The program would be limited and would start in Honduras but could be expanded to include other Central American countries.

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