Thousands of minors who entered the country illegally are flooding the U.S.-Mexico border and overwhelming federal resources. During a press conference on Thursday, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson implied that many of the foreign children will remain in the U.S. The secretary said that President Obama’s Health and Human Services (HHS) will first and foremost use resources to act in the best interest of each child.

Johnson said that 24,000 unaccompanied children crossed the border last year–by May, 2014, that number had already doubled to 47,000.

“The law requires that we act in the best interest in the child,” Johnson said. “When we turn over a child to HHS, HHS acts in the best interest of the child which very often means reuniting that child with the parent in the United States. That’s what the law requires. ”

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