The Biden administration reportedly expects an unprecedented surge of unaccompanied migrant children showing up on the southern border in hopes of being admitted into the United States during its first year.
Border officials anticipate 117,000 children will arrive at the U.S.-Mexico border without a parent or guardian in 2021, according to a White House domestic policy council document to be shared with President Biden this afternoon, which Axios reported Tuesday. The number is higher than the 68,000 taken into custody during the 2014 surge of solo children and the 80,000 who arrived during the 2019 humanitarian crisis at the border.
“I actually think that’s an undercount,” Victor Manjarrez, Jr., a former senior Border Patrol agent who teaches about law and human behavior at the University of Texas at El Paso, told the Washington Examiner.
Manjarrez pointed to the Biden administration’s decision to discontinue the 10-month practice of returning all unaccompanied children to Mexico rather than bringing them into U.S. custody as a leading factor for smugglers sending 2,000 children over the border each week this month. After taking office in January, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas directed border officials not to send any single child south of the border, choosing instead to stick along the lines of a 2007 trafficking law that protected most single children from being deported.
However, the Border Patrol is already struggling to hold minors in its custody because its holding stations are not suited for children and coronavirus restrictions make it difficult to detain people safely. Children are to be held by Border Patrol no more than three days before being transferred to the Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees child care facilities where children are held before being released to a family member or sponsor in the U.S.
Biden is scheduled to attend a private briefing Tuesday afternoon in which he will learn of HHS’s plans to make 20,000 total shelter beds available. HHS had 8,000 beds as of last week.
The large majority of unaccompanied children arriving at the border are 16 and 17 years old. Of the estimated 8,000 solo children taken into custody in February, 6,000 were 16 and 17 years old.
The White House declined to comment on the Axios report that the White House domestic policy council planned to alert Biden on this development.
In recent weeks, the Biden administration has allowed HHS to pay for minors in its custody to be flown to their sponsor or family member’s home when the receiving adult cannot pay for the cost. The decision means HHS funding, including taxpayer money, will go toward resettling children in the U.S. while they wait several years for an immigration judge to decide whether they will be removed or allowed to stay in the country.
Katherine Doyle contributed to this report.
Author : Anna Giaritelli
Source : Washington Examiner : DHS warns Biden of crisis: Record 117,000 unaccompanied children expected at border this year