US shelter for immigrant children nearing maximum capacity as border crossings increase

The recent increase in the number of migrant children detained along the southern border has seriously burdened the US government’s ability to accommodate them, according to data obtained by CBS News.

Last week, US border guards arrested more than 1,500 immigrant children, according to government statistics reviewed by CBS News. An additional 300 minors were detained on Sunday.

Due to the steady increase in border crossings by unaccompanied children, nearly 90% of the 8,000 available beds managed by the federal agency responsible for the housing of these minors are occupied. On Monday, the Refugee Resettlement Administration, a branch of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), reached 7,100 children, leaving less than 900 vacant beds.

With this rise, government officials, shelter operators and supporters are concerned about their ability to address one of their common concerns. Children spend long periods at Customs and Border Protection (CBP) facilities, most of them immigrant adults.

“We are absolutely worried,” an HHS official who demanded anonymity told CBS News. “We are evaluating all the options on the table to accommodate, care for and ensure that the children are not backed up under the control of CBP.”

US law requires CBP to transfer most unaccompanied children to a refugee office within three days of detention. Approximately 750 unaccompanied children were detained at CBP waiting to be placed in a facility supervised by a refugee office on Friday, a person familiar with the number told CBS News. ..

On February 5, 2021, an immigrant girl jumped across the Rio Bravo River and arrived in El Paso, Texas from Ciudad Juárez, Mexico.

HERIKAM ARTINEZ / AFP via Getty Images

At least 179 migrant children spent more than three days at the CBP facility in January, according to data obtained by CBS News. Internal policy All migrants, especially minors, have been ordered to be released within 72 hours. More than 45 people were held for more than 10 days. In December, at least 48 minors were detained in CBP for more than three days.

“The CBP facility is designed to handle adult men, and it’s basically inappropriate for children to stay indefinitely,” Neha Desai, a lawyer representing minors in a class action lawsuit, told CBS News. It was.

Immigrants call these facilities “hieleras” or freezers. This is called “perreras” because of the low temperatures experienced there and because it resembles a kennel.

Desai said border stations could reach levels of no overcrowding since 2019, when border stations received national attention due to reports that families and children were packed in concrete block cells. He said he was afraid of that.

“It was less than two years in a crowded CBP facility where I received a call about a seriously ill baby at midnight. The facility had a strong stench, and an overwhelming number of children were phobic, ill, and “It’s dirty,” Desai added.

In January, the refugee office accepted more than 4,000 immigrant children. 39 minors Placed in shelter in May 2020, when the U.S. government had banished most cross-border people of all ages under a pandemic-related edict issued by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). I did.

Last month, CBP recorded the arrests of 5,900 unaccompanied children and 7,500 parents and children along the US-Mexico border. However, this figure is below the previous monthly high in May 2019, when the US Border Guard handled 11,000 unaccompanied minors and 88,000 parents and children.

Under the Trump-era CDC order, the Biden administration continued to expel most single adults and families with children, but after the Court of Appeals lifted a federal judge’s November ruling that blocked the practice. Exceptions were made for unaccompanied children.

Policy changes formalized by CDC Director Rochelle Walensky Early this monthMeans that border authorities will transfer most unaccompanied children to refugee agencies in the future.

The move was praised by supporters, but refugee agencies had to look for ways to increase bed capacity, which was reduced by COVID-19 mitigation measures. The office has more than 13,200 taxpayer-funded beds, but currently only less than 8,000 can be used.

“We don’t know how many children will come in the next few days, weeks, or months, so make sure your emergency response plan includes more bed space preparation than you think you need. We need to, “said an HHS official.

The newly reopened inflow facility in Cariso Springs, Texas was expected to accept more than 200 teenage migrants on Monday. The Refugee Agency also plans to make about 700 additional state-licensed beds available in shelters nationwide within the next three months, HHS officials said.

Another inflow facility in Homestead, Florida may also be reopened. “The reopening of the facility will include more child-friendly spaces for sleep, recreation, education, and greater transparency,” HHS officials said. “It’s not just about going back to the previous facility or the facility of the last few years.”

A Central American woman and her son cross the Rio Grande
A Central American woman and her son crossed the Rio Grande River and surrendered to border guards at a crossroads in Texas, USA.

Pacific Press

HHS officials said the refugee department is also working to release children from custody as soon as possible. This is a complex task due to the fact that minors are being tested for coronavirus.The agency is responsible for placing unaccompanied children with a scrutinized sponsor, usually part of a U.S. family.

Three shelter operators who demanded anonymity because they were not authorized to talk about work with the federal government said refugee agencies faced significant logistical challenges in the future, in the bed space of migrant children. He expressed concern about the decline.

One shelter operator said the increase in intersections created an unprocessed portion of minors seeking asylum in the United States, part of the Trump administration’s policy of expelling unaccompanied children. Said that it may be due to

“It created a bursting bubble, as they can now enter,” a shelter official said.

HHS officials have promised that the Biden administration will allow immigrant children to apply for forms of humanitarian shelter as required by U.S. law, and its approach is “significantly different” from the Trump administration. Said.

“Seeking protection is within their legal rights. We need to treat these children the way they want,” officials added later.

In a statement, CBP said it was “working closely” with refugee agencies to remove unaccompanied minors from detention. The White House did not provide comments.

The Biden administration has promised to rebuild asylum capacity along the southern border, but the White House and top executives of the Department of Homeland Security are rapidly expelled from US soil as they trek north. We have worked together in recent weeks to warn future immigrants of this.

But Central American government officials working on border issues say the message has been distorted by misleading marketing by smugglers telling poor families that the border is currently open under President Biden. Stated.

“The information people are receiving is’come now’,” an official who was not allowed to speak publicly told CBS News. “Today, Coyote’s message is that families and children can cross.”

US shelter for immigrant children nearing maximum capacity as border crossings increase

Source link US shelter for immigrant children nearing maximum capacity as border crossings increase

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