Record numbers of migrant children are being held in warehouse-like facilities run by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and the number of children being referred to Health and Human Services is growing almost three times faster than social workers are able to find appropriate homes for the children.
The children arriving without parents is growing exponentially, and many are not able to be transferred to better facilities with bunk beds, games, classrooms and medical facilities which are at 94% capacity. Kids are staying on average 107 hours in the sprawling and sometimes jail-like Border Patrol facilities — longer than the 72 hours allowed by law.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas is expected to be pressed on the situation next week when he testifies before the House Committee on Homeland Security. House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy announced Thursday that he would lead a delegation of a dozen Republican lawmakers to the border on Monday.
The acting commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Troy Miller, cited an increase in border crossings of nearly 30% in the last month. Close to 9,500 were children or teenagers without parents.
The Biden administration reopened an emergency influx shelter for teenagers without parents, and sources say the 952 beds there will fill up within days.
Press Secretary Jen Psaki says Biden is focused on placing the children with vetted families, and the policy decisions being made are a humane approach.
Psaki refutes Texas Governor Abbott’s claims about Biden’s policy being open borders.
Amb. Roberta Jacobson, the White House coordinator for the Southern Border, said Wednesday the surges are due in part to misinformation and the “pent up demand” for a more humane policy after the Trump administration.
“I certainly think that the idea of a more humane policy would be in place, may have driven people to make that decision,” she said, “but perhaps more importantly, it definitely drove smugglers to express disinformation about what is now possible.”
Jacobson said the administration is working to develop more legal avenues to seek asylum so that migrants don’t feel they have to choose illegal avenues.
This complete story is at NPR.