As I have seen firsthand and stated repeatedly, addressing the rising flow of unaccompanied children crossing our southwest border is an important priority of this Administration and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). It requires a whole of government coordinated and sustained response.
On the recommendation of myself and others, the President has today directed an inter-agency Unified Coordination Group to address the situation, pursuant to the Homeland Security Act of 2002 and other authorities. I am appointing Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Craig Fugate as the Federal Coordinating Official. In this role, Administrator Fugate will, subject to my oversight, direction and guidance, lead and coordinate Federal response efforts to ensure that Federal agencies are unified in providing relief to the affected children. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will maintain primary responsibility for border security operations at and between ports of entry and, working with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), provide for the proper care of unaccompanied children when they are temporarily in DHS custody. DHS will continue to coordinate closely with the Departments of Health and Human Services, State, Defense, the General Services Administration and other agencies, to ensure a coordinated and rapid government-wide response in the short-term and to undertake broader, longer-term reforms to address the root cause behind these recent migration trends.
This designation builds on the authorization I made on May 12 to establish a "Level IV" condition of readiness -- the highest level of contingency planning within DHS. U.S. Border Patrol Deputy Chief Vitiello, as part of this authorization, will continue to lead DHS personnel reassigned to assist in processing and caring for unaccompanied children. We will also continue to work closely with the governments of Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador to counter this recent surge in migrant children.
We must, and we will, address this situation.