July 18, 2014 / 8:11 PM / in 4 years

Obama to meet Central America leaders, migrant numbers fall: officials

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama will meet with the leaders of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador next week to discuss cooperation on the influx of child migrants from Central America into the United States, senior administration officials said on Friday.

The meeting comes as the number of unaccompanied minors crossing the border into the Rio Grande Valley in Texas has begun to drop off, the officials said, seeking a victory in a crisis that has largely consumed the White House and the Obama administration in recent weeks.

In June roughly 2,000 children were crossing the border on a weekly basis, one official told reporters on a conference call. By the second week in July those numbers had dropped below 1,000 and were continuing in that direction, he said.

“We think that this is an important trend,” the official said.

The officials tied the drop to a number of factors, including U.S. information campaigns about the dangers of the journey for the children and clear policy statements that coming to the United States would not give the migrants a pathway to citizenship.

The officials said weather-related declines were also a factor. Traditionally fewer border crossings occur in the hotter summer months.

Obama has come under fire from Republicans, who say his immigration policies have encouraged the flood of minors to make the journey to the United States.

The president’s meeting with the Central American leaders on July 25 would take place at the White House. The group would discuss how to enhance cooperation on the issue. Vice President Joe Biden, who has met with the leaders during a trip to Central America last month, would host them for lunch.

The U.S. officials said families of migrants were returned to all three countries this week.

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