The number of unaccompanied children crossing the southern border could explode by fall 2021, as U.S. border officials scramble to address an abnormal crisis that the Biden administration has mostly denied has unfolded, numerous sources reported.
Border Patrol officials have said they expect more than 16,000 minors to be taken into custody in March, a record for any month since at least 2010, the Wall Street Journal reported. Although the Biden administration has told people in Central American countries not to make the perilous journey to the U.S., the administration projects the number of unaccompanied minors will only continue growing, potentially reaching 26,000 in September, Axios reported.
Biden’s administration has sought to deny the existence of a crisis at the border even as it reopens Trump-era facilities to house minors crossing the border. In late March, Biden said the migrant surge at the border was normal, and happened “every single solitary year.” (RELATED: Biden Plays Defense On Immigration In First In-Person Press Conference)
“What is happening today, and I’d like to think it’s happening because I’m a nice guy, but it’s not–because it’s what happens every year,” Biden said on March 25. “If you take a look at the number of people who are coming, the vast majority, the overwhelming majority of people who are coming and crossing the border are being sent back.”
Up until March 18, Biden administration officials avoided referring to the situation at the border as a “crisis,” although Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas directed the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to assist DHS process and transport migrant children earlier in the week. Mayorkas also predicted in a March 16 statement that the country was “on pace to encounter more individuals on the southwest border than we have in the last 20 years.” (RELATED: After Weeks Of Dodging, Psaki Refers To Situation ‘On The Border’ As A ‘Crisis’)
Axios reported that government resources will be strained for a longer period of time than under usual seasonal migration patterns. Although Biden has suggested the surge is normal, federal agencies are preparing for a continued migrant surge that is unlike that of previous years.
Between 2004 and 2009, no more than 8,230 minors were put in shelters each year, and a spike in child migration was noticed in 2011. The government is preparing for several months of more than 20,000 minors illegally crossing the border, Axios reported.
The number of minors progressively increased in March, and border officials had to hold children at agency’s stations and tent facilities for an average of 90 hours, and in some cases, as long as 100 hours, although the maximum time is 72 hours, a senior Border Patrol official told the Journal.
The minors have to be placed at the facilities because the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement does not have space to fit them all, the Journal reported.
Space is so limited that local officials in some cities like San Antonio and San Diego have reportedly allowed agencies to use sports and concert venues as temporary emergency shelters. Agencies will also use two Texas military bases to house children, according to the Journal.
Biden repealed several of Trump’s policies including border wall construction and paused deportations for 100 days within his first week of taking office. A federal judge blocked President Joe Biden’s moratorium on deportations in January, according to the Associated Press.
However, the Biden administration has continued expelling single migrant adults and some family units to Mexico under Trump’s Title 42 public health order, but the Mexican government said in January it would stop accepting some families, forcing the U.S. to admit parents with children under 7 years old, according to the Washington Post.
Critics of Biden’s administration argue that Biden’s stance on immigration that he promoted while campaigning created and exacerbated the migrant crisis. Members of a migrant caravan that set out from Honduras cited Biden’s migration policies as the reason for their journey to the U.S. Another migrant caravan from Honduras, with several hundred people, has also started the journey to the U.S.