US President Barack Obama has asked the US Congress for emergency funding and extra legal authorities to deal with the surge of people crossing illegally into the United States from Central America.

Authorities in the US have seen a 90% increase this year in the number of people entering its southwestern borders illegally, compared with last year.

Many of those are young women and children, coming from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

It is estimated that 90,000 unaccompanied children from Central America will have crossed over by the end of this year.

The White House administration and Mr Obama himself have appealed to families in Central America not to send their children alone, saying that they will not be allowed to stay in the US and will be returned.

Mr Obama today wrote to the Republican and Democratic leaders of Congress asking them to work with him to "maximise the impact" of their efforts to address the "urgent humanitarian situation with an aggressive, unified and coordinated Federal response on both sides of the border".

In terms of extra legal powers, Mr Obama has asked Congress to consider increasing penalties for those who smuggle children into the US.

There is evidence that many of the children who have arrived recently have been smuggled by gang members who demand thousands of dollars to transit the children.

Mr Obama has also asked the congressional leaders to consider providing extra authority to the Secretary of Homeland Security in order to process the return and removal of the unaccompanied minor children.

He has also asked Congress for an emergency law to provide extra resources to provide extra border security officials and immigration judges, along with "an aggressive deterrence" campaign, as well as increased efforts to return and re-integrate migrants.

The extra funding will also be used to cover the cost of detaining, processing and caring for the illegal children and adults until they are returned to their countries of origin.

In his letter today, Mr Obama did not specify how much extra funding he requires, but previous estimates had put the figures in excess of $2bn (€1.46bn).