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Lawmaker: Most child immigrants trying to meet parents who are in the U.S. illegally

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 25: House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) hears testimony about the recent surge of unaccompanied Central American minors who have been crossing the U.S.-Mexico border since last fall during a hearing in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill June 25, 2014 in Washington, DC. Laying blame with the Obama Administration, the committee heard testimony from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials and others about the more than 52,000 immigrant children who have crossed the border alone since October of 2013. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee said Thursday that most children from Central America entering the United States illegally are trying to reunite with one or more of their parents, who are already in the country illegally themselves.

Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) spend the last few days touring the Rio Grande Valley Sector of the U.S.-Mexico border, toured several federal facilities, and met with border officials.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) said Thursday that most child immigrants are entering the U.S. to find one or both of their parents, who are also in the country illegally. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

"The vast majority of Central American minors who are unaccompanied meet up with their parents who are already in the United States illegally," Goodlatte's report concluded. "Further, these parents often had a role in smuggling the minors into the United States."

Goodlatte said several minors from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras admitted openly they were looking for a parent that was already in the country.

"At a tour of the HHS facility housing boys ages 8-17, members were told that the phone is ringing off the hook with parents looking for their children who they know made — and often directed to make — the dangerous journey to the U.S.," the report said.

It also said members watched as a 15-year old boy from Honduras was apprehended. That boy said he traveled to the U.S. to find his mother, "who has been in Los Angeles since he was six," the report said.

Goodlatte also found that U.S. border agents believe tougher border enforcement is needed to deter illegal immigrants, and that the U.S. needs to end its "catch and release" program.

Third, Goodlatte said environmental rules are prohibiting U.S. border agents from accessing certain areas of the border as they do their jobs.

Goodlatte said the Obama administration already has the tools available to do a much better job of policing the border. He said the border crisis is a "disaster of President Obama's own making."

"If President Obama wants to stop this problem, he should enforce our immigration laws and quit using his pen and phone to create administrative legalization programs," he said. "Additionally, he needs to direct officials at the Department of Homeland Security to crack down on asylum fraud and implement deterrents to stop people from entering in violation of the law."

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