The U.S. Border Patrol is currently holding a record number of unaccompanied migrant children in its facilities, raising concerns about the government’s ability to handle the surge on the southern border.
As of Monday, more than 3,200 children were being housed in Customs and Border Protection facilities, with nearly 1,400 of them reportedly being held beyond the legal three-day limit, according to government documents reviewed by CBS News. These facilities aren’t intended for long-term stays and are meant for adults. The documents also report that close to 170 of these unaccompanied children are younger than 13 years of age.
During a press briefing on Monday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki declined to confirm those numbers, suggesting that the Department of Homeland Security would have more specifics. “We’ve been very clear that there is an increase, that there are more children coming across the border than we have facilities for at this point in time,” Psaki said. She attributed the surge to individuals fleeing persecution and violence in their countries, two recent hurricanes in the region, and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last week, CNN reported that the Biden administration advised facilities for children to increase capacity back to pre-pandemic levels due to “extraordinary circumstances.”
The Biden administration recently reopened a migrant facility intended for minors in Carrizo Springs, Texas. The facility was previously built in 2019 by the Trump administration tenure and can house up to 700 persons. The reactivation of the facility angered many immigration reform advocates, including Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who tweeted in response, “This is not okay, never has been okay, never will be okay — no matter the administration or party.”
Biden acknowledged the Carrizo Springs shelter in a Univision interview last month, saying, “Our hope and expectation is that won’t stay open very long and that we’ll be able to provide for every kid who comes across the border, safely to be housed in a facility that’s licensed.”