Thousands of Central American migrants, many of them unaccompanied children, have crossed the southern border in recent days, overwhelming government agents.
Mexican officials had told many of those trying to cross the border that they could enter the United States. At a camp on the Mexican side of the border, which had been established two years ago, some asylum seekers were told that they could reopen their cases and that they could eventually enter the U.S. To await the asylum process, according to a report. CBS report.
Mexican authorities have long tried to shut down makeshift camps that have been set up by migrants trying to cross into the United States.
The new influx is largely due to instability and rising rates of COVID-19 infection in Central American countries, as well as perceptions of a change in immigration rules under the Biden administration, according to the Customs Office. and US Border Protection.
Last week, Border Patrol agents reported that 350 children crossed into the United States a day without their parents, more than four times the number last fall, according to reports.
The Office of Refugee Resettlement, a federal agency that works to house unaccompanied minors, said they have been processing an average of 337 children per day. In January, the agency’s shelters saw more than 4,000 unaccompanied minors arrive in the United States, a 19 percent increase from December, according to the CBS report. That figure is the highest the agency has recorded in a month in February. In February 2019, the agency registered about 5,900 minors, according to CBS.
Unaccompanied children must be turned in within 72 hours to the Department of Health and Human Services. There are currently 7,700 unaccompanied minors in the care of HHS, which opened an overflow shelter in Carrizo Springs, Texas for children between the ages of 13 and 17 earlier this year. The agency is also conducting a “site survey” at a military barracks in Fort Lee, Virginia, to find other temporary housing overflowing, according to a Pentagon spokesman.
Overflow facilities have in the past been operating with limited capacity due to the coronavirus, but on Friday the Biden administration notified HHS that they may reopen the facilities at pre-pandemic levels, an indication that the increase is likely to increase, according to CNN. report last week.