More than 14,000 migrant children in US custody: official
More than 14,000 minors who traveled to the U.S. without their families are currently in federal custody, according to an administration official.
The official said that Health and Human Services (HHS) has more than 9,500 child migrants in its care, while Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has about 4,500.
The Biden administration is scrambling to deal with the swell of migrant children making the dangerous journey from Central America to the Southern border.
Administration officials say most adults and families are being turned away, but the Biden administration is allowing unaccompanied minors to stay in the U.S. while their immigration status is processed.
The Biden administration is trying to quickly move those children out of CBP’s care and into sponsor homes or HHS facilities where they would have access to educational, health and legal services.
However, CBS reports that 3,000 of the children at Border Patrol facilities, which are meant for adults, have been kept there for longer than is legally allowed. Some facilities are reportedly operating at greater than 100 percent of capacity.
The White House says it is searching for additional housing for children. The administration official confirmed that a convention center in Dallas will open up to migrant children. A separate facility in Midland, Texas, is already in use.
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has authorized the Federal Emergency Management Association to assist in the processing, transferring and housing of migrant children.
While the administration says that nearly all adults seeking irregular entry into the U.S. have been turned away, some families are being allowed entry under certain circumstances.
The administration official said most families are expelled at the border, but that “there are certain limits in terms of Mexico’s capacity” to absorb some of the families that are being turned away. In those cases, the families have been accepted into the U.S. to have their immigration appeals or asylum requests heard in front of a judge.
“Those decisions are being made on the ground in consideration of their circumstances,” the official said.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the “vast, vast majority [of families] that come to the border are turned away.”
“There are limited circumstances, very limited I should say, where families are coming across going through proper protocols at the border, being tested and then having their cases adjudicated,” she said.
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