Vice President Joe Biden discussed immigration reform legislation with Central American leaders during a trip to Guatemala taken in an attempt to discourage the influx of children traveling to the United States alone.
Biden spoke to reporters after meeting with officials from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and Mexico.
“It is true they’re very concerned about family reunification, but they understand that that’s what the immigration bill does,” he said of the meeting. “It provides a legal way to do that. And when the issue was raised about — and it was raised, well, again, I guess I shouldn’t identify without their permission, but you can go check — when the issue was raised about reunification, it was clear that — and they talked among themselves and to me — that they had an obligation to identify the parent — country who sent the child, and return the child to that parent.”
Biden said he expected that the “vast majority” of children showing up at the border would be sent back. “You’re clearly not going to send a child back to a circumstance where there is no one there for them,” he said. ”But we do intend, and everyone agreed, it is necessary to put them back in the hands of a parent in the country from which they came.”
The vice president blamed the surge of unaccompanied minors on the violence in the cities from which most of the people are coming, adding that the United States is providing economic and security assistance to the troubled countries.
“Now that sounds like sort of foreign policy State Department speak, doesn’t it?” Biden allowed. “Meet the challenges. We talked specifically about everything — how to create boys and girls clubs, how to deal with violence against women, how to vet police forces so their corruption is eliminated. There are concrete things, and we stand ready to help do, to build institutions here in this country and in the rest of Central America.”