An urgent humanitarian situation has become a major political conundrum.
The surge of Central American children illegally crossing the border into Texas has politicians debating possible responses while scattered protests against the influx threaten to become an organized movement in coming days.
Even fellow Democrats are criticizing President Barack Obama's administration over the issue likely to linger through the November congressional elections.
Here's a look at Wednesday's developments:
"We are being invaded!" screams a flyer urging nationwide protests this weekend against the tens of thousands of youngsters coming to America on their own from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.
The July 18-19 "National Day of Protesting Against Illegal Immigration, Amnesty and the Border Surge" has a host of right-wing groups participating and promises more than 250 demonstrations at state capitols, Mexican consulates "and on streets and overpasses coast to coast, including Hawaii and Alaska."
While the impact remains uncertain, the effort follows an increasing eruption of public opposition to government efforts to place the newly arrived youngsters in holding facilities across the country.
Earlier this month, screaming protesters waving American flags in Murietta, California, turned back buses transporting undocumented youngsters to a detainee facility.
On Tuesday, protesters on both sides of the debate faced off at an Oracle, Arizona, boys ranch intended for temporarily housing child immigrants from Texas, according to CNN affiliates covering the story.
Some communities were more welcoming, such as Fontana, California, where staff and community donations of food, clothing and toys awaited buses carrying about 40 of the youngsters to a local church last week, according to CNN affiliate KTLA.
Americans consider immigration the most important issue for now, according to a new national survey released Wednesday.
The Gallup poll conducted July 7-10 found 17% ranking immigration first, a 12 percentage-point increase for the issue since last month. Other issues cited included dissatisfaction with the government at 16%, the economy at 15% and jobs at 14%, with nothing else reaching double digits.
As expected, more Republicans than Democrats chose immigration as the top issue.
"With no solution to the current crisis in sight, and less than four months to go before the midterm elections, it is easy to believe the issue could still be a factor come November," a Gallup news release said.
On Tuesday, an ABC News/Washington Post poll showed a majority of people back Obama's $3.7 billion plan to address the border surge, but far fewer approve how the President or congressional Republicans are dealing with what the administration calls an urgent humanitarian situation.
CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger said such numbers show people were fed up with political stalemate over immigration.
"I think they've had it with both parties in this," she said. "So Congress better get something done pretty quickly here."
Congress mulls over the issue
Obama met Wednesday with Hispanic lawmakers and then House Democrats to seek support for his emergency funding request to respond to the border crisis.
The President seeks to reduce a backlog of cases overwhelming the immigration system by speeding up hearings to determine who stays and who goes.
His request includes $1.8 billion to provide temporary care for children in government custody, and $1.6 billion to bolster customs and border efforts while cracking down on smugglers. Another $300 million would help Central American governments discourage parents from paying smugglers to get their children to the United States.
So far, Republicans have balked at Obama's request, saying they will come up with a smaller plan.
One proposal by Texas legislators -- GOP Sen. John Cornyn and Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar -- would change a 2008 law that requires immigration hearings for children from countries other than neighbors Mexico and Canada who arrive at the border on their own.