Story highlights

President Obama and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto spoke by phone Thursday

They discussed the influx of unaccompanied children entering the U.S. from Central America

Vice President Biden heads to Guatemala Thursday for meeting on the topic

Between 60,000 and 80,000 kids will cross border without parents, officials say

CNN —  

U.S. President Barack Obama phoned his Mexican counterpart Thursday to address the alarming trend of unaccompanied children entering the United States through Mexico.

According to a White House statement, Obama told President Enrique Peña Nieto that he “welcomed the opportunity to work in close cooperation with Mexico to develop concrete proposals to address the root causes of unlawful migration from Central America.”

The call came the day before Vice President Joe Biden heads to Guatemala for a meeting with regional leaders on the same topic.

U.S. authorities estimate that between 60,000 and 80,000 children from Central America will cross the border this year without their parents.

The magnitude of the deluge has forced the United States to turn three military bases into shelters. One of those, Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, will get a visit from Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson on Friday.

Obama told Peña Nieto that he welcomed the Mexican President’s “efforts to target the criminals that lure families to send children,” and reiterated to him that in all likelihood, those who make the dangerous and illegal journey would be sent back to Central America, according to the White House statement.