The Biden administration has staunchly denied categorizing the rush of unaccompanied migrant children at the border a crisis, but it is now deploying the Federal Emergency Management Agency to the border to address it.
The move is part of the Department of Homeland Security's 90-day border plan of action at the U.S. southern border, DHS announced Saturday night, The Washington Post reported.
Nearly 4,000 unaccompanied migrant children are being held in border detention facilities while they are found a home with a vetted guardian in the U.S.; that is on top of about 8,500 children in longer-term shelters run by Heath and Human Services, according to the report.
In just days, about 700 unaccompanied children have been added to stressed out border detention centers, per the Post.
"A Border Patrol facility is no place for a child," DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas wrote in a statement. "We are working in partnership with HHS to address the needs of unaccompanied children, which is made only more difficult given the protocols and restrictions required to protect the public health and the health of the children themselves."
The Biden administration will "look at every available option to quickly expand physical capacity for appropriate lodging," per the statement.
The Trump administration's DHS and Custom and Border Patrol had long sought to deter unaccompanied migrant children from coming to the U.S., amid heavy criticism from Democrats and the media for a policy that held children in large wire-fencing facilities.
That started under the Obama administration, though, and former President Donald Trump famously prodded then-candidate Joe Biden in a presidential election debate: "Who built the cages, Joe?"
Now, Trump and Republicans, decrying Biden's open-border policies, are saying the new administration has made the crisis more dire than ever.
Under COVID-19, Trump was turning migrant children away at the border under a 'Remain in Mexico' plan, unwilling to house them after heavy criticism, but Biden unwound that policy and campaigned on opening the southern border to "humane" treatment of migrants, including unaccompanied minors.
That put more and more kids in what Democrats and the media called cages, particularly dangerous amid the global coronavirus pandemic and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warnings against gatherings.
Child activists had sued the Trump administration for using hotels to house unaccompanied migrant children detained at the border, the Post report.
The CDC had limited border beds due to social distancing protocols, but White House press secretary Jen Psaki recently hailed the relaxing of restrictions as a way to take in more unaccompanied minors at the detention centers rebuked as putting children in "cages."
The Trump administration and Republicans have long noted unaccompanied minors crossing the southern border are often victims of sex and human trafficking, if not used by Mexican drug cartels in drug smuggling.
The Biden DHS is continuing to use the Trump administration public health order to turn away single adults and some families at the southern border, but more than 100,000 border arrests and detentions came in Biden's first full month in office and the pace is more than 130,000 for March thus far, the Post reported.
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