Border Patrol officials are holding more than 700 children who entered the U.S. unaccompanied, according to Axios, citing an internal Customs and Border Protection (CBP) document.
The document indicates that more than 200 of the children in question have been held in Border Patrol facilities for over 48 hours, while nine have been detained for over 72 hours, the limit agreed to under the Flores Settlement Agreement.
On Tuesday alone, more than 400 migrant children were referred to Department of Health and Human Services-run shelters, according to Axios, citing an administration official. At the height of the 2019 border crisis, the 30-day average was 294.
Detention of children and family separation under the Trump administration was a rallying cry for Democrats during the 2020 election.
White House press secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiPaid family leave is 'not a vacation,' Buttigieg says Biden struggles to rein in Saudi Arabia amid human rights concerns The Memo: Conservatives change their tune on big government MORE has pushed back on the suggestion that the Biden administration’s handling of unaccompanied minors is comparable. There have been no reports of family separations under the Biden administration.
“We have a couple of options: We can send them back home. ... We can quickly transfer them from CPB to these [Department of Health and Human Services]-run facilities. ... We can put them with families and sponsors without any vetting," Psaki said. "We've chosen the middle option.”
Despite the distinction drawn by the White House, the administration has still faced criticism from progressive Democrats on the issue. On Tuesday, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezSinema's no Manchin, no McCain and no maverick Ocasio-Cortez goes indoor skydiving for her birthday Democrats fret as longshot candidates pull money, attention MORE (D-N.Y.) tweeted that the opening of a new facility for migrant children “is not okay, never has been okay, never will be okay - no matter the administration or party.”
Psaki has defended the reopening as a necessary step during the coronavirus pandemic, saying “our intention is very much to close it.”
A CBP spokesperson told The Hill unaccompanied minors are cared for consistent with agency policies on detention and that it prioritizes processing unaccompanied children.
Updated: 9:06 p.m.