Thousands of migrants crossing the US border overwhelm government agents
Thousands of Central American migrants, including many unaccompanied children, have poured across the southern border in recent days, overwhelming government agents.
Many of those who tried to cross the border were told by Mexican officials that they could enter the United States. At a camp on the Mexican side of the border that had been set up two years ago, some asylum seekers were told they might reopen their cases and eventually enter the US to await the asylum process, CBS report.
The Mexican authorities have long tried to close down the improvised camps set up by migrants trying to enter the United States.
The new influx is primarily due to the instability and rising COVID-19 infection rates in Central American countries, as well as the perception of a shift in immigration regulations under the Biden administration, according to the US Customs and Border Protection.
Last week, border guards reported 350 children entering the US daily without their parents – reportedly more than four times the number seen last fall.
The Office of Refugee Resettlement, a federal agency committed to housing unaccompanied minors, said it processed an average of 337 children per day. In January, more than 4,000 unaccompanied minors entered the United States at the agency’s shelters, up 19 percent since December, according to the CBS report. This number is the highest the agency recorded in February. In February 2019, the agency recorded nearly 5,900 minors, according to CBS.
Unaccompanied children must be handed over to the Department of Health and Human Services within 72 hours. There are currently 7,700 unaccompanied minors under the care of HHS, who opened an overflow shelter for children 13-17 years old in Carrizo Springs, Texas earlier this year. The agency is also conducting a “site survey” of a military barracks in Fort Lee, Virginia, to find other temporary overflow shelters, according to a Pentagon spokesman.
In the past, overflow facilities have been operating with limited capacity due to the coronavirus, but on Friday the Biden administration told HHS they could reopen facilities to pre-pandemic levels, an indication that the surge is likely to increase, according to CNN Report last week.