The White House has announced it will open more detention facilities to temporarily house migrant families caught crossing the US border illegally, along with new aid programs to funnel millions of dollars to Central American countries in an attempt to tamp down gang violence and “reintegrate” migrants the US deports to their home countries.

A sharp rise in migrants crossing the border illegally has overwhelmed US immigration agencies. US vice-president Joe Biden was scheduled to speak in Guatemala on Friday about the humanitarian crisis driving the migrants north and the impact it is having on US border towns.

Up to 1,000 new migrants a day are flowing across the US-Mexico border in an immigration surge caused by violent drug cartels in countries such as Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, according to border patrol officials. An especially high proportion of the new migrants are unaccompanied children. Most are ferried through dangerous routes by smugglers.

“Our first priority is to manage the urgent humanitarian situation by making sure these children are housed, fed and receive any necessary medical treatment. We also are taking steps to improve enforcement and partnering with our Central American counterparts in three key areas: combating gang violence and strengthening citizen security, spurring economic development and improving capacity to receive and reintegrated returned families and children,” Biden’s office said.

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