Backlog of migrant kids in Border Patrol custody soars to 4,200, with 3,000 held previous authorized restrict

On Sunday morning, the U.S. Border Patrol held more than 4,200 unaccompanied migrant children in short-term holding facilitiesAccording to government records checked by CBS News, including prison-like wards not suitable for housing minors.

Almost 3,000 of the unaccompanied children in Customs and Border Protection (CBP) were detained for more than 72 hours. CBP is required by law to refer most unaccompanied minors to the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), which oversees accommodation approved for child accommodation, within three days of their detention.

The number of unaccompanied children in CBP custody on Sunday increased 31% year over year Early last weekwhen the agency held more than 3,200 minors. The number of children held for more than three days has more than doubled.

According to government records reviewed by CBS News, an average of 565 unaccompanied minors have taken CBP custody every day over the past week.

The records show that unaccompanied minors spend an average of 117 hours in a border guard which, according to Alejandro Mayorkas, Minister of Homeland Security, is “not a place for a child”.


An aerial view of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection in Donna, Texas.

United States Customs and Border Protection

Taken together, the statistics highlight the humanitarian crisis on the US-Mexico border resulting from a sustained increase in the number of unaccompanied children in custody and the lack of adequate housing space to accommodate them.

In February, nearly 9,500 unaccompanied children were admitted to US border detention and more than 7,000 were transferred to ORR, a division of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Central American teenagers and children only began arriving in March.

According to attorneys who interviewed minors in U.S. custody, detention conditions are overcrowded as thousands of children are held in short-term border guards, most of which are built to hold immigrant men in custody.

Children interviewed Thursday by attorneys supervising a federal court case said they slept on the floor. to be hungry; shower only once in up to seven days; and not being able to call family members.

“One of them said he could only see the sun while showering because you could see the sun through the window,” Neha Desai, an attorney at the National Center for Juvenile Rights, told CBS News, citing interviews with nearly a dozen children including an unaccompanied 8 year old girl.

According to the government, the CBP sectors in the Rio Grande Valley and El Paso, Texas, as well as Yuma and Tucson, Arizona, are congested when it comes to accommodating unaccompanied children. With more than 2,500 unaccompanied minors in custody, the Rio Grande Valley sector is currently 363% busy.

US Customs and Border Protection

An entrance to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection facility that houses unaccompanied migrant children in Donna, Texas.

United States Customs and Border Protection

Representatives from the CBP and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) did not respond to requests for comment.

The DHS has admitted on several occasions that it is struggling to process the large number of migrant families and children who come into the department’s care.

“We are working with HHS to address the needs of unaccompanied children, which is only made more difficult given the protocols and restrictions required to protect public health and the health of the children themselves,” Mayorkas said in a statement on Saturday, in which he posted officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to Help with the processing of minors with a migration background.

With around 9,000 children imprisoned and beds reduced through social distancing measures, the refugee office has tried to find space for unaccompanied migrant children. The agency is considering the placement of children at a military facility in Virginia as well as at a NASA-regulated federal airfield in California.

The refugee agency has released hundreds of migrant children to family members and other godparents each week, but its release rate has been dwarfed by the number of minors entering US border custody.

With the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) allowing the refugee agency to relax social distancing policies and return to the pre-pandemic area, only 200 additional beds have been made available, Biden government officials said on April 12th Friday with.

HHS has also hired staff at Border Patrol facilities to expedite the process of minors’ release and canceled an agreement with the Trump-era DHS that allowed some information about child godparents to be sent to immigration authorities – a Step to encourage undocumented families to sponsor children.

Comments are closed.