(NBC News) Members of Congress issued a call to action Thursday, pleading for help for thousands of children who've poured across the United States' southern border in recent months.
Since last October roughly 50,000 unaccompanied children have been apprehended on the Mexican border, most in Texas and Arizona.
That number could balloon to 90,000 by the end of the year.
Most say they risked their lives walking across Mexico to escape violence in their home countries of Honduras, Guatemala or El Salvador. Most are being housed temporarily in crowded, make-shift facilities.
"While not every child will have a valid claim, it's critically important that every child be given the chance to have due process so that we don't inadvertently return them to violence," New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez said.
Other members pleaded for patience in dealing with what they call a humanitarian crisis usually seen elsewhere around the world, not in the United States.
"Many have died on the road to America fleeing certain death and destruction in their own country," Illinos' Rep. Luis Gutierrez noted.
They say up to $2 billion may be needed to deal with the crisis immediately, and while Republicans blame lax border enforcement and relaxed immigration laws under President Obama, Democrats say blame the drug cartels and gangs, and asked the administration to put pressure on the governments in the three countries.
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