Most of the money requested would be used to increase shelter capacity and care for the migrant families who have been fleeing poverty and violence in their home countries. It would be used to address urgent humanitarian needs, they said, and the money is needed quickly.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement will begin DNA testing in cases where officials suspect adults are fraudulently claiming to be the parents of children as they cross the U.S. -Mexico border together.
The $4.5 billion includes: $3.3 billion for humanitarian assistance, $1.1 billion for border operations, and $178 million for mission support, like additional personnel, according to the request sent to lawmakers.
A U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer stands in front of a line of trucks that will undergo a secondary inspection at the Otay Mesa Cargo Port of Entry in San Diego, on May 23, 2017.
The agencies have long argued they have special privileges at the border to search travelers and keep out contraband like child pornography, but civil liberties groups have said device searches are more intrusive than traditional suitcase inspections given the amount of private data people carry in their electronics.
President Trump requested $4.5 billion from Congress in emergency funding to address the large numbers of migrants attempting to cross the southern border into the US, a problem that Mr. Trump has frequently described as a "crisis". They insisted the funds were different from what Trump seeks to make available through the national emergency declaration. And officials said document fraud is common at the border; homeland security officials say that corrupt officials in Central American countries - especially in Guatemala - have been issuing low-cost fake birth certificates.
The number of families and children arriving alone at the border is now outpacing the number of single adults, putting new strains on the immigration system.
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The official said without the money, the Department of Health and Human Services would exhaust its available money by next month for caring for unaccompanied children who cross the border.
Lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union said new documents and depositions from Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement show that agents are searching the electronic devices of travelers for "general law enforcement" purposes and communicating with other government agencies to search for evidence of crimes including tax evasion and hiding assets in bankruptcy.
In a Tuesday hearing, acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan told congressional appropriators that the federal government's third largest department - with a $50-billion budget - will tap out before September, the end of the current fiscal year.
Acting Director of Office of Management and Budget Russell Vought speaks during a news briefing at the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House on March 11, 2019.
"This pilot will help us determine whether this technology can strengthen our investigative processes and potentially rescue more children from unsafe situations", said a DHS official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to brief reporters.
"We will continue fighting the administration's use of mass incarceration as a weapon to punish migrants", Realmuto said.
The White House is asking Congress for $4.5 billion in emergency funding as it confronts an influx of migrants on the southern border.