Leaked documents from the Department of Health and Human Services revealed the overwhelming number of child migrants crossing the border and stretching the Biden administration’s resources.
In the last week of February, 321 children per day were referred to HHS custody, a sharp jump from the weekly average of 203 in late January and early February, according to documents reviewed by Axios.
The HHS had to reopen an emergency shelter in Texas on Feb. 22 and is considering reopening a similarly controversial facility in Florida to try to provide additional housing for the children.
The shelter system is already at 94 percent occupancy and is expected to reach maximum occupancy this month.
The HHS has also increased the speed with which children are released to caretakers already in the United States, according to the leaked documents. The data shows that an average of 174 children per day were released from HHS custody in the last week of February.
Children apprehended at the border are usually held briefly in custody before being transferred to government shelters.
From the shelters, the minors are released to their parents or other adults while they pursue their claims for asylum or other protection with the help of lawyers or sponsors, according to Reuters.
However, internal documents reviewed by CNN showed that many children are staying in Border Patrol custody for longer than an average of three days, which is overwhelming the facilities.
The Biden administration is scrambling to find 20,000 beds to shelter the rapid influx of child migrants, Axios reported.
The number of migrant kids crossing the border is on pace to exceed the record by 45 percent and the administration does not have enough beds to shelter them all.
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas insisted, however, that there is not a crisis at the border on Monday.
“There is a challenge at the border that we are managing,” he said, according to The Federalist.
“The men and women of the Department of Homeland Security are working around the clock seven days a week to ensure that we do not have a crisis at the border, that we manage the challenge, as acute as the challenge is.”
The HHS department is planning to update its current coronavirus protocols to make room for about 2,000 more kids and teens, an anonymous source told Axios.
The Department of Homeland Security projected there will be 117,000 unaccompanied child migrants crossing the border this year, but over 6,000 migrants at 16 and 17 years old were caught in just the last month.
According to Axios, the government faced a similar situation during the crises in 2014 and 2019 when the number of children crossing the border overwhelmed immigration systems.
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