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October 24, 2014

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Titus: No easy solution to child migrant crisis

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Rick Loomis / Associated Press

An immigrant peers out from a detention area in McAllen, Texas, Tuesday, July 15, 2014 at the McAllen Border Patrol Station. A solution for the growing crisis of tens of thousands of unaccompanied children showing up at the U.S.-Mexico border has been elusive.

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Congresswoman Dina Titus

After a two-day visit to the U.S.-Mexico border, Rep. Dina Titus says the humanitarian crisis of unaccompanied Central American minors coming into the United States through our southern border can’t easily be fixed.

“The greatest thing I take away is just how complex the issue is, and we’re not going to solve it by putting a bandaid on it,” she said in a conference call with reporters Friday.

The Las Vegas Democrat joined a group of lawmakers Thursday and Friday to tour border patrol stations and detention facilities in McAllen, Texas, and talk with Mexican officials about the crisis.

Lawmakers in Washington, D.C., left town in August without resolving how to deal with the estimated 120,000 children and adults who have been caught trying to cross illegally into the U.S. since October, a 90 percent increase from the year before.

Titus called for a comprehensive approach that includes boosting the economies of the three Central American countries most of the migrants come from — Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.

“You don’t see children coming from Costa Rica or from Panama where they have a much higher standard of living,” she said.

Titus also said the U.S. could do a better job with its existing programs to fight gang violence in Latin America and suggested an audit of those federal programs.

Titus corroborated President Barack Obama’s comments Thursday that the number of children attempting to cross the border has slowed. She said detention facilities aren’t overcrowded and the focus now should be on speeding up the immigration proceeding process to either deport migrants or grant them asylum.

She said she believes about 175 migrant children have made their way to Nevada while awaiting immigration hearings.

This was Titus’ first trip to the border since the increase of unaccompanied minors. Rep. Steven Horsford, a North Las Vegas Democrat, visited the border in June, where he called it “a humanitarian crisis.”

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