FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) --Local politicians are meeting with Central American leaders this week to address the surge of undocumented children crossing the Mexican border.
Since last October, nearly 52,000 unaccompanied children have entered the United States illegally. The thousands of children are fleeing crime-ridden countries infested with gang violence and government corruption.
"Certainly immigration is a federal issue so there's nothing we can do there. But what we can do is figure out how to deal with this issue in a very humane way," said Assemblymember Henry T. Perea.
It's one of the main reasons Perea and other California state leaders are visiting El Salvador, Guatemala and Panama this week. Perea says the focus of the trip is to figure out how to get the children back to their home countries in the most humanitarian way possible.
"There's no easy answer. They're looking at turning old military bases into potential housing for many of these young kids until they are sent back to their home countries," said Perea.
President Barack Obama is asking Congress to approve $3.7 billion in spending to help government agencies deal with the influx of these children.
"This is the inevitable result of the federal government, failing to secure the border," said Assemblymember Jim Patterson. "It's been exacerbated by the president's explicit invitation that if you come to the United States you're going to have amnesty."
Patterson isn't going on the trip this week but says this is a problem that needs a swift solution.
Perea says they'll also be talking to leaders in Panama about the canal expansion for potential economic opportunities.