Vice President Joe Biden will head to Guatemala this week to make it clear that unaccompanied children flooding into the U.S. from Central America are not eligible for a path to citizenship and may be subject to deportation.
Biden's trip comes as authorities at the border with Mexico have been dealing with an influx of tens of thousands of children crossing into the United States, many of them traveling alone.
A senior White House official attributed the flood of children to violence and a lack of economic opportunity in the region. But the official acknowledged there also is a "misperception of US immigration policy."
The official, who spoke on a condition of anonymity to discuss Biden's upcoming trip, said the children are not subject to President Obama's decision in 2012 to allow some undocumented immigrants who came to America as minors to defer deportation. It only applies to children brought to the US as minors before June 2007 -- but critics have pointed to the policy as a lure for some immmigrants.
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Most of the children are from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras and Biden will meet Friday with Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina, along with El Salvador's president and a senior representative of the Honduran government.