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The number of minor children arriving at the U.S.-Mexican border has grown exponentially in recent weeks. Border crossings are up 30% over the last month, including almost 9,500 children. This high rate of arrivals has led to the Biden administration's inability to work quickly enough to place these children in the care of the U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) within 72 hours as required by law. HHS places the unaccompanied minors in more hospitable shelters designed for children with the goal of finding appropriate homes for them with relatives in the U.S.
Current Status of Unaccompanied Minors Entering the U.S.
According to records held by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is holding more than 3,400 children in detention facilities similar to warehouses that adult detainees are meant to inhabit. Previous reports about these facilities have revealed that detainees sleep on holding cell floors in cold temperatures with thin blankets. They also receive only rudimentary meals and none of the amenities available to children in HHS shelters, such as access to education, bunk beds, snacks, and recreation.
Minors reportedly are arriving almost three times faster than HHS workers can house them in appropriate facilities or homes, mainly because available HHS facilities for children already are 94% full. Children spend an average of 117 hours in detention instead of the maximum of 72 hours that the current law allows.
The Biden Plan to Address the Influx of Unaccompanied Minors
The Biden administration is reportedly working on expanding HHS care facilities for children. The children can remain at these families until HHS officials can confirm and vet homes with families in the U.S. Although the Biden administration recently reopened a 952-bed emergency shelter for teenagers in Carrizo Springs, Texas, immigration advocates expect it to fill up in days. White House officials toured the reopened shelter in recent weeks, and groups of House Democrats and Republicans intend to visit it, as well, along with a bipartisan duo of legislators planning to meet with local officials in Texas.
The White House has announced that it will activate the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and assign HHS officials to the border to get children into HHS facilities or homes with family members more quickly. The administration also intends to restart the Central American Minors program designed to reunite children who have a parent legally living in the U.S., including transporting children to these homes.
The Biden administration attributes much of the influx to the more humane policies adopted following the expiration of the Trump regime. The President’s press secretary also states that misinformation about more favorable treatment by U.S. immigration officials, often fed to immigrants by smugglers looking to make money, likely is leading more immigrants to take the risk of crossing the border into the U.S. Furthermore, hundreds or even thousands of minors that the Trump administration left stranded across the border under the “Remain in Mexico” policy has increased the number of minors seeking admission to the U.S.
Nonetheless, as critics have argued, the U.S.-Mexican border is not suddenly “open” to all who wish to come to the U.S. Immigrants cannot freely enter the U.S. without any legal authorization to do so. U.S. officials have urged immigrants to refrain from attempting to enter the U.S. amid a pandemic that remains somewhat uncontrolled, especially as some state officials, including the governor of Texas, have lifted restrictions on mask-wearing and large gatherings.
Contact Us Today for Legal Assistance with Your Immigration Case
The Bashyam Shaw Immigration Law Group limits its practice solely to immigration matters. This focus allows us to concentrate our efforts on keeping abreast of the ever-changing immigration law and policy world. We are here to represent your interests, no matter whether you need help with getting an employment-based visa, bringing a loved one to the U.S., or defending against deportation. Call us today at (919) 833-0840 and see what we can do for you.