Senate panel seeks $2.28 billion to aid immigrant children

By Richard Cowan WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A Senate panel, responding to what President Barack Obama calls an “urgent humanitarian situation,” on Tuesday advanced legislation significantly increasing funds to handle a surge of foreign children entering the United States illegally. Democratic Senator Barbara Mikulski, who chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee, included up to $2.28 billion for the Department of Health and Human Services to feed and shelter the estimated 130,000 minors expected to arrive in the fiscal year that begins on Oct. 1. That is up from the $868 million that Congress urgently provided this year to handle an estimated 60,000 undocumented children who will leave their homes in Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and other countries and travel to the United States without their parents or other relatives. A Senate aide familiar with the issue told Reuters appropriators also intend to have a “significant” increase in funds for the Department of Homeland Security next year.

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