Tags: Biden Administration | Immigration | migrants | unaccompanied | minors | border | crisis

White House Plan on Migrant Children Brings Concern Among Federal Officials

young children stand at entry to pod
Young children look out from inside a pod at the Donna Department of Homeland Security holding facility, the main detention center for unaccompanied children in the Rio Grande Valley run by the Customs and Border Protection, in Donna, Texas, Tuesday, March 30, 2021. (Dario Lopez-Mills/AP Photo)

By    |   Thursday, 01 April 2021 09:28 AM

The Biden administration's increasing pressure to relocate unaccompanied minors at the U.S.-Mexico border to holding sites that might not be safe has federal officials reportedly voicing their concerns over the plan.

The growing border crisis has resulted in a surge of unaccompanied youngsters attempting to enter the U.S., the Washington Free Beacon reports.

Border Patrol can hold the young migrants legally for up to 72 hours before moving them to the Department of Health and Human Services. But a backlog due to the number of migrants and lack of adequate facilities has generated much criticism of the White House, which has been pressuring federal officials to relocate the minors.

Officials, however, warn that moving the minors could pose a danger to the children and violate a 1997 legal settlement requiring the government to house minors in "safe and sanitary" facilities.

Nearly 5,800 child migrants were housed at Border Patrol facilities on Sunday, more than double the June 2019 record of 2,600. The Wall Street Journal said those numbers were expected to rise.

The Washington Free Beacon reported the Office of Refugee Resettlement, a division of HHS, told officials the bureau was struggling with an administration directive to send kids to Fort Bliss, an El Paso, Texas, U.S. Army base under construction, and to an emergency influx center in San Antonio, Texas.

That prompted some officials to warn that following the instructions would "result in children sitting on buses" and "extremely dangerous ratios at the sites affected," referring to the ratio of children to adults.

"We are not going to speculate on what might be or not be internal deliberations," HHS spokesman Mark Weber told the Free Beacon, adding "additional capacity is urgently needed to manage both enhanced COVID-19 mitigation strategies and the increasing numbers" of migrants.

According to one senior official, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra was considering an agency mandate requiring 200 HHS employees to temporarily relocate to the border to help with the crisis.

However, as of late Wednesday, Becerra instead was said to be leaning toward calling for 300 agency volunteers to manage cases virtually.

Those plans emerged after Becerra failed to fulfill a promise to President Biden to recruit 1,000 volunteers from across federal agencies to take paid details at the border.

A GOP congressional delegation toured the southern border during the weekend, with Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, calling what he saw a "man-made crisis."

"When you gaze across a massive room with 2,200 teenage boys, it takes your breath away," Cruz said. "It is tragic. It is horrific."

The Free Beacon reported the administration had begun releasing minors to sponsors in the U.S. before background checks on those sponsors had been completed, raising the risk for human trafficking.

The border crisis developed after the Biden administration decided to stop the Trump administration's "Wait in Mexico" policy, which returned asylum seekers who entered the United States from Mexico to wait in Mexico until their cases were adjudicated.

Biden, though, has insisted the surge is a seasonal spike and has refused to admit a border crisis exists.

In an email obtained by the Free Beacon, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission chair Charlotte Burrows asked agency employees to apply for stints at the border — the first such request in at least a decade.

Burrows cited the "unprecedented influx of unaccompanied children at our Southern Border," calling on EEOC staffers "to lend support to this humanitarian effort."

"These children are alone, frightened, separated from family, and currently being housed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection [CBP] in holding areas that were not meant for children beyond a short period of time," Burrows wrote Tuesday. The email was first reported by Bloomberg Law. 

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The Biden administration's increasing pressure to relocate unaccompanied minors at the U.S.-Mexico border to holding sites that might not be safe has federal officials reportedly voicing their concerns over the plan. The growing border crisis...
migrants, unaccompanied, minors, border, crisis
Thursday, 01 April 2021 09:28 AM
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