MEXICO CITY (AP) — California Gov. Jerry Brown said Tuesday his state is willing to shelter more migrant children from Central America if needed but reiterated that the United States needs to find a long-term solution to the immigration crisis.
“I would do everything I could to make sure California will do its part to shelter any young children that are in need of protection,” Brown said after meeting with more than a dozen Central American religious leaders and Los Angeles Catholic Archbishop Jose Horacio Gomez in Mexico to discuss the surge of unaccompanied Central American youth and families illegally crossing into the United States.
“I would support additional shelters to deal with this particular immediate challenge we have,” Brown added.
A Naval Base in California’s Ventura County known as “Building 267″ is one of three shelters set up by federal government officials to house hundreds of Central American children. There are also shelters in Texas and Oklahoma.
While Brown’s three-day visit to Mexico was primarily aimed at business matters, the governor also took on the immigration issue.
Brown said the United States needs to look beyond fortifying its border with Mexico and get Mexico and Central America’s cooperation in finding a solution to stem the flow of migrants.
The United States “has to keep a humanitarian frame of reference as it deals with each one of these young immigrants and there has to be courageous actions on the part of Central American governments if we’re going to get the problem solved and Mexico also has to be part of the fix,” Brown said.
The governor said the surge of children migrants can’t be considered a military issue and that the United States could better spent its money by investing in development programs in Central America.
“The United States government is spending $20 billion on the border, and a fraction of that invested in other problems in Central America might create a lot more security,” he said.
Earlier Tuesday, Brown turned his focus to education and energy during the second day of his trip to Mexico.
As part of Brown’s call to strengthen relations with Mexico, the University of Southern California announced it signed an accord with the Mexican Foundation for Education, Technology, and Science to provide joint scholarships for graduate students from Mexico to study at USC.
The governor also signed a non-binding agreement with Mexico’s Environmental Department to reduce greenhouse emissions and fight climate change, which includes initiatives to align greenhouse gas reduction programs and strengthen fuel and truck efficiency standards on both sides of the border.
In addition to discussing immigration and energy with Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Neito, Brown said they also talked about ways to shorten long waits at the Tijuana-San Diego international border crossing.
“Whatever has to be done in two hours can be done in 15 minutes, or maybe in 30 minutes. The question is what it would take to transform the delay into an appropriate, much briefer period of waiting,” Brown said.
Brown said he expects to have proposals ready by the time Pena Nieto visits California in August.
On Wednesday, the governor plans to wrap up his trip by signing a trade agreement with Mexico, which is California’s largest export market.
The trip, organized by the California Chamber of Commerce, includes a delegation of more than 100 people representing state government, business, economic development, investment and policy. Delegates paid $5,000 each for the trip, which is subsidizing the cost of Brown’s travel.
Associated Press writer Mark Stevenson contributed to this report.
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