The Biden administration is reportedly preparing to open another tent facility in Texas near the US-Mexico border to house migrant families and children who have crossed into the United States in recent weeks to request asylum as the number of unaccompanied minors who have illegally entered the country has grown to 300 per day.
The new facility, which is slated to be built near Del Rio, Texas, will be put up to deal with the sudden influx of asylum seekers who have been allowed to seek refuge in the US since President Joe Biden entered office.
The planning for the facility was revealed on Thursday by The Washington Post, which cited three Department of Homeland Security officials.
DailyMail.com has sought comment from DHS and the White House.
‘CBP is currently constructing a soft sided facility in Eagle Pass, TX to help accommodate migrants in our custody,’ Customs and Border Protection told DailyMail.com in a statement.
‘There have always been fluctuations in the number of individuals we encounter at the border, and we continue to adapt accordingly.
‘Since April 2020, CBP has seen an increase in border encounters from the Western Hemisphere due to worsening economic conditions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and natural disasters impacting the area.
‘Based on past experience, evaluation of operational requirements, and challenges due to COVID-19 space restrictions, we need additional processing facilities when we see rising numbers of encounters.
‘As we work to build and improve permanent facilities for the safe and orderly processing of individuals at the border, temporary soft-sided facilities are sometimes necessary to meet operational needs that may arise due to rising encounters, particularly under challenging circumstances.’
Record numbers of immigrants are crossing the US-Mexico border – mainly children and teenagers without parents – prompting the Biden administration to reopen shelters to hold the children until they can be placed with a guardian.
Biden overturned many of Donald Trump’s immigration policies with a swipe of his executive pen when he became president – including reversing Trump’s policy of expelling minors who arrive without their parents.
The Biden administration is planning to open another temporarily facility to house migrants crossing the border illegally from Mexico. The facility will be opened in Eagle Pass, Texas – not far from the US-Mexico border crossing at Del Rio, Texas (above)
The Del Rio facility will be similar to one that was reopened earlier this week in Carrizo Springs, Texas. That facility will hold up to 700 children ages 13 through 17 to allow proper social distancing as the Biden administration struggles to deal with rising tide of immigrants – many unaccompanied minors. The image above shows the Carrizo Springs facility in July 2019
Children line up to enter a tent at the Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children in Homestead, Florida in this February 2019 file photo. The number of migrants under the age of 18 crossing the border illegally has surged to as much as 300 per day – a fourfold increase compared to several weeks ago
Migrants walk to cross the Gateway International Bridge to be processed to seek asylum in the US in Matamoros, Mexico on Friday. The Biden administration has reversed Donald Trump’s hard-line immigration policies which forced asylum seekers to wait in Mexico for months
After the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, the Trump administration ordered migrant children immediately returned to Mexico.
Since then, the number of minors in federal custody has tripled to more than 7,000 causing the Biden administration to reopen shelters in Carrizo Springs, Texas and in Homestead, Florida, where now-Vice President Kamala Harris protested outside of in June 2019.
The newly planned Del Rio facility in the town of Eagle Pass is expected to be similar to the one in Carrizo Springs, an emergency shelter which was reopened on Monday to cope with a flood of hundreds of unaccompanied minors seeking asylum.
The Carrizo Springs facility was reopened to provide 700 beds for migrants under the age of 18.
The administration said that reopening the facility would reduce the amount of time the migrants would have had to wait in the custody of Border Patrol.
By law, Border Patrol can detain children in custody for up to 72 hours. Afterward, they must then be transferred to shelters around the country that are licensed to care for children.
These shelters are operated by the Office of Refugee Resettlement, an agency that works under the auspices of the Department of Health and Human Services.
Separately, HHS is also scrambling to cope with the influx of new arrivals by opening emergency shelters and trying to speed releases of migrant kids to sponsors in the United States.
‘There are no good choices here,’ Biden told reporters on Friday. ‘The only other options are to send kids back, which is what the prior administration did.’
Most migrants caught at the border, including families and individual adult asylum seekers, are still being rapidly expelled at the border under a Trump-era health rule in place since last March.
In the past four months, federal officials have taken more than 70,000 migrants a month into custody.
Between October and January, more than 19,000 immigrant children, most of them from Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, entered the country illegally, according to Customs and Border Protection.
Migrants from Central America and other nationalities, hoping to cross and request asylum in the U.S., hold banners and shout slogans to U.S. President Joe Biden, at their campsite outside El Chaparral border crossing, in Tijuana, Mexico, Saturday
The first group of 25 migrants walk to cross the Gateway International Bridge to be processed to seek asylum in the U.S., in Matamoros, Mexico are pictured
In January, the number of unaccompanied children coming over the border was more than 5,700, up from 4,855 the month before.
The sudden influx has created the potential for a humanitarian crisis in which the federal government is unable to handle the overflow of asylum seekers.
Immigration authorities and advocates said that the children are seeking to reunite with their parents or other relatives already living in the US.
Large numbers of migrants have left Central America and sought refuge in the US in recent years to escape poverty and gang violence, according to immigrant advocates.
US immigration law allows children who cross the border to apply for asylum or another form of protection that would allow them to remain in the country permanently.
While adults and families can be deported relatively quickly, children are given a chance to remain due to the risk that they have been the victim of human trafficking or were fleeing an abusive parent.
Those who favor stricter border policies claim that allowing children to apply for asylum, a process that can take years, gives parents incentive to send their kids across the border alone, putting them in danger.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Wednesday defended the administration’s position and said the children were not being kept in cages but ‘difficult choices’ were being made.
‘We have a number of unaccompanied minors — children — who are coming into the country without their families. What we are not doing — what the last administration did was separate those kids, rip them from the arms of their parents at the border. We are not doing that. That is immoral, and that is not the approach of this administration,’ she said.
Psaki said the administration would not make the ‘dangerous’ choice of sending kids back across the border nor would they place them with unvetted guardians – leaving the only option of holding them in shelters operated by the Department of Health and Human Services.
She also pointed out that due to COVID precautions, more shelters are needed to give the children space for social distancing.
‘We had to expand and open additional facilities because there was not enough space in the existing facilities — if we were to abide by COVID protocols,’ she said.
‘This is a difficult situation. It’s a difficult choice. That’s the choice we’ve made,’ she added.
A migrant camp on the banks of the Rio Grande in Matamoros, Mexico sits right across the river from Brownsville, Texas. The camp is currently home to 700 migrants
The migrant camp in Matamoros, Mexico, just across the river from Brownsville, Texas, is currently home to just under 700
And the situation could get worse.
An Immigration and Customs Enforcement email obtained by The Washington Post shows the Biden administration is already in crisis mode when it comes to immigration policy.
‘We need to prepare for border surges now,’ Timothy Perry, ICE’s chief of staff, wrote in the Feb. 12 email. ‘We need to begin making changes immediately.’
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told senior officials ‘to prepare for border surges now,’ Perry wrote.
‘We need to begin making changes immediately. We should privilege action over cost considerations; do what is needed, and the department will work on funding afterward.’
The Biden administration is so concerned about running out of shelter space, it authorized shelters to buy airline tickets for minors who already have relatives living in the United States, according to a HHS email obtained by The Post.
Some Democrats have slammed Biden for reopening the shelters, which were a flashpoint in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary with many contenders blasting the Trump administration for separating children from their families.
Harris was one of several Democratic presidential contenders who protested outside the Homestead facility when the candidates were in Miami for the first presidential debate in June 2019.
‘This is not okay,’ Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wrote on Twitter of the Biden administration’s decision to re-open shelters.
‘This is not okay, never has been okay, never will be okay – no matter the administration or party,’ she wrote.
Meanwhile, the first asylum seekers crossed the Gateway International Bridge from Mexico to the US earlier this week after Biden overturned Trump’s tough immigration policies.
Men, women, and children from a migrant camp of at least 700 in Matamoros, Mexico, just across the river from Brownsville, Texas, have been crossing into the United States after spending months stuck in Mexico waiting for their cases to be processed.
The U.S. government has restarting processing those with active cases made to wait in Mexico during the Trump administration at three border crossing between the two countries
The Gateway International Bridge spans the Rio Grande at the U.S.-Mexico border in Matamoros, Mexico. U.S. immigration authorities have begun allowing some asylum seekers with active cases into the U.S. in a reversal of Trump’s immigration policy
A camp of migrants on the banks of the Rio Grande in Matamoros was a particular priority for the Biden administration and Mexico
Migrants hope by entering the US, their cases will be processed faster and it will be difficult to deport them under asylum rules.
The Trump administration created the ‘Remain in Mexico’ program in January 2019 in an effort to deter asylum seekers trying to enter the US through is southern border.
Trump defended policies such as Remain in Mexico – which has sent more than 69,000 people back over the border, sometimes into ramshackle refugee camps – as a way to protect US citizens from ‘thugs’ and ‘bad hombres’.
One week ago, Biden‘s administration began permitting members of the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) program to enter the United States to pursue their court cases.
Since then, U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR) spokeswoman Silvia Garduño said 27 people crossed the border from Mexico on Thursday and 100 on Friday, with the remaining 500 or so crossing by early next week.
The UNHCR agency, along with the International Organization for Migration, is in charge of the logistics of registering and transporting migrants from the camp to the United States.
The Mexican government source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Reuters the goal was for 500 migrants in the Matamoros camp to enter the United States by the end of next week.
Mexican authorities did not immediately respond to requests for comment. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) referred Reuters to a DHS statement that said the registration process ‘will be done as quickly as possible.’
In Matamoros, asylum seekers expressed optimism.
TRUMP’S IMMIGRATION POLICIES
- President Trump’s policy was formally known as the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) and forced migrants attempting to cross the southern border to apply for asylum in Mexico regardless of their country of origin. It led to a swelling of the number of people camped at the border.
- Migrants would be held in a ‘staging area’ in Mexico where they would receive a health screening and could enter the U.S. only after testing negative for COVID-19.
- After entering the U.S., immigrants would be taken to local shelters and would need to coordinate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials in order to avoid detention but may be subject to ankle bracelets.
- Trump implemented the remain in Mexico policy in 2019, and forced immigrants fleeing dangerous situations to stay in Mexico while awaiting court hearings in the U.S.
- Under the policy, the government removed more than 60,000 migrants to the Mexican border.
BIDEN’S IMMIGRATION POLICIES
- President Biden’s plan will allow migrants waiting at the Mexican border to enter the U.S. to apply for asylum.
- The new rules would be a first step to ending former President Trump’s ‘remain in Mexico’ policy.
- Biden’s new policy is expected to be officially rolled out in the coming weeks and follows an executive order signed earlier this month tasking the Department of Homeland Security to desig a plan to replace MPP.
- ‘The situation at the border will not transform overnight, due in large part to the damage done over the last four years but the President is committed to an approach that keeps our country safe, strong, and prosperous and that also aligns with our values,’ the administration said in a fact sheet announcing the order.
- The Supreme Court also granted the administration’s request to cancel an upcoming hearing on the remain in Mexico policy while the White House weighs a replacement.
Migrants from Central America and other nationalities, hoping to cross and request asylum in the U.S., hold banners and shout slogans to U.S. President Joe Biden at their campsite outside El Chaparral border crossing, in Tijuana, Mexico
Several migrants set up tents, in Tijuana, in the state of Baja California. Tijuana, Matamoros and, as of this Friday, Ciudad Juarez, are the three Mexican border points from where migrants are already crossing into the United States for an immigration court to review their asylum cases
The great majority of the 25,000 asylum seekers with active cases who were forced to wait out the process in Mexico under Trump´s so-called ‘Remain in Mexico’ program, still have weeks or months of waiting ahead
After waiting months and sometimes years in Mexico, people seeking asylum in the United States are being allowed into the country
The people were told to wait in Mexico for American courts to decide on their cases. The relaxing in policy unwinds one of the Trump administration’s signature immigration policies that President Joe Biden vowed to end
Migrants react as they walk towards the Gateway International Bridge to be processed to seek asylum in the U.S. The majority are asylum seekers had been waiting in Mexico as their cases wind through U.S. courts under a program implemented by former President Donald Trump which saw them ‘Remain In Mexico’
Last week President Joe Biden’s administration began permitting members of the Migrant Protection Protocols program to enter the United States to pursue their court cases
A migrant child is being carried by a Mexican municipal worker while crossing the Gateway International Bridge to be processed to seek asylum in the U.S. in Matamoros, Mexico
‘We’ve just received news that tomorrow we’re leaving!’ said Honduran asylum seeker Josue Cornejo in a video recorded inside the camp on Friday evening, which also shows his wife and daughters wiping away tears.
But as one tent city begins to empty in northeastern Mexico, another has sprung up on the other side of the country. In Tijuana, migrants encouraged by the news that some asylum seekers were being allowed to enter the United States have begun to camp out near the El Chaparral port of entry, across the border from San Diego, California. Advocates say about 50 tents have been put up in recent days.
Biden, a Democrat, is balancing pressure from immigration advocates to unwind the hardline immigration policies of his predecessor with concerns about rising numbers of migrants arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
A woman carries a child, as migrants walk to cross the Gateway International Bridge to the U.S.
A Mexican government source has said the goal was for 500 migrants in the Matamoros camp to enter the United States by the end of next week
Migrants pray before crossing the Gateway International Bridge to be processed as they seek asylum in the U.S.
Migrants leave their camp and head towards the Gateway International Bridge to be processed as they seek asylum in the US
Children play next to migrants from Central America and other nationalities hoping to cross and request asylum in the U.S., at their campsite outside El Chaparral border crossing, in Tijuana, Mexico
Migrants from Central America camp outside the El Chaparral border crossing, hoping to cross and request asylum in the U.S, in Tijuana
A child looks out from a tent next to other migrants from Central America who are camping outside the El Chaparral border crossing, hoping to cross and request asylum in the U.S.
Migrants from Central America, hoping to cross and request asylum in the U.S., queue for donated food at their campsite
Migrants stand in lines on the U.S. side of the Gateway International Bridge as they wait to be processed