White House efforts to respond to a wave of child migrants from central America faced growing opposition in Congress on Thursday, as both Democrats and Republicans questioned aspects of the president’s plan to tackle the crisis.

An exasperated-sounding Barack Obama lambasted Republicans during a speech in Austin, Texas, in which he compared himself to Mark Wahlberg’s character in Martin Scorsese’s 2006 Oscar-winning film The Departed. The president said: “I’m the guy doing his job. You must be the other guy.”

Yet despite increasing partisan rancour over Obama’s request for $3.7bn in emergency funding to deal with the 57,000 unaccompanied children who have been trafficked over the Mexican border, the president faces criticism from within his own party.

Senate foreign affairs chairman Robert Menendez, who led efforts to pass wider immigration reform, said he would oppose administration requests to repeal parts of a 2008 anti-trafficking law which is blamed for encouraging the recent influx of children from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

The law stipulates that unaccompanied children arriving from countries that do not directly border the US must be allowed to remain while their asylum cases are processed.

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