U.S. races to search out mattress house for migrant kids as variety of unaccompanied minors in authorities custody hits 15,500
The U.S. government sheltered approximately 15,500 unaccompanied immigrant minors on Saturday, including 5,000 teenagers and children stranded in border guards that were not designed for long-term detention. This is based on government data verified by CBS News.
As of Saturday morning, more than 5,000 unaccompanied minors were being held in a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) tent camp facility in South Texas and other stations along the border with Mexico. According to government records, unaccompanied children spend an average of 136 hours in CBP detention, well above the 72-hour limit set out in US law.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) also sheltered nearly 10,500 unaccompanied children in shelters and shelters approved by states for the care of minors, department spokesman Mark Weber told CBS News on Saturday.
More than 9,400 unaccompanied minors entered US border detention last month, a record high for a February. This number is expects to be dwarfed According to the government, border officials have encountered an average of more than 500 unaccompanied minors per day in the past 21 days.
The refugee agency within HHS is tasked with housing most unaccompanied minors until they can be placed with family members or other sponsors in the United States. The US refugee agency was forced to open makeshift shelters to bring children out of the custody of the Border Patrol.
Eli Hartman / AP
On Saturday, HHS announced to Congress that a new inflow facility is due to open in Pecos, Texas, which will initially house around 500 unaccompanied children, according to a statement from CBS News. According to HHS, the facility, a former housing complex for oil workers, could be expanded to accommodate up to 2,000 minors in the future.
The Pecos facility would be the fourth unaccompanied minor facility opened by the Biden government. She is working hard to accommodate the growing numbers of children who arrive at the U.S.-Mexico border without parents or guardians. The Trump administration used three inflow facilities for migrant children over four years.
Last month, the U.S. Refugee Agency opened a Trump-era inflow facility in Carrizo Springs, Texas. With help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Refugee Bureau has also converted a convention center in Dallas and an oil workers’ camp in Midland, Texas into emergency sites to house unaccompanied youth stuck in border guards that are built to detain most migrants.
Figures verified by CBS News on Saturday show that the US government continues to struggle to reduce the record backlog of children in US border custody, even as it opens new residential facilities and increases bed capacity in state-licensed shelters.
“The staggering number of children in CBP detention is both heartbreaking and deeply worrying,” Neha Desai, an attorney who represents immigrant minors in a landmark trial, told CBS News.
Last week, Desai and her colleague from the National Center for Youth Rights, Leecia Welch, interviewed immigrant minors detained at the Border Patrol tented facility in Donna, Texas. According to Desai, the children said they took turns sleeping on the floor because crowded conditions;; unable to call family members; and shower once in up to seven days.
Desai said she believes “the Biden government is determined to humanely address the humanitarian situation we now face,” but this “time will tell if the government’s good intentions and hard work become what is urgently needed.” Change will lead. “
On Friday, Paul Wise, a court-appointed doctor tasked with overseeing conditions for migrant children in U.S. custody, told U.S. District Court judge Dolly Gee that he was in the Donna Holding and other CBP wards South Texas noted “severe overcrowding” he toured last week.
Wise warned that the crowded conditions were not “sustainable” and said holding capacity along the southern border could gradually dissipate.
CBP said in a statement to CBS News that it was working to get unaccompanied minors “as soon as possible” into HHS shelters. Based on the statements of Homeland Security Minister Alejandro Mayorkas, the agency said that border guards “are not intended to keep children long-term”.
“Even a few hours in detention is more than we want for children arrested by Border Patrol at the border,” the agency said in a statement.
Since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) allowed shelters to relax social distancing measures and return to prepandemic in early March, the U.S. refugee bureau has reactivated more than 500 beds earlier this week, an agency spokesman told CBS News.
While the refugee agency is no longer considering using a military base in Virginia or a NASA installation in northern California to house unaccompanied children, it is still looking into other locations, according to Weber, the HHS spokesman.
Citing a late 19th-century health agency, the Trump administration evicted thousands of unaccompanied children from the southern border without being able to apply for asylum until a federal judge blocked the practice in November 2020.
While an appeals court overturned the judge’s order in late January, the Biden government refused to exclude unaccompanied migrant children, calling the practice inhumane. The Biden administration has continued to use the Trump-era public health edict to exclude adult migrants and some families with children.
“We made a different decision than the previous administration,” Mayorkas said Thursday on CBS This Morning. “We are not driving young children back into the poverty and violence environment from which they are fleeing.”
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