Over 3,200 migrant children were held in Border Patrol facilities on Monday and almost 1,400 have been held in Customs and Border Protection facilities beyond the 72-hour legal limit, according to documents obtained by the New York Times.
The number of unaccompanied children detained along the border between the United States and Mexico has tripled over the last two weeks, filling facilities “akin to jails” as President Joe Biden’s administration attempts to find room for the children in shelters, the documents said.
By law, unaccompanied children must be moved from border facilities to Department of Health and Human Services shelters within three days of detainment.
According to the Times, the border agency has come under fire for its federal detention facilities’ terrible conditions, which were originally built for adults, but now house children who are being exposed to disease, hunger, and overcrowding as a result.
The documents showed that almost 170 unaccompanied children being held in CBP custody are under 13-years-old.
More than 5,800 unaccompanied children were located at the border in January, a significant increase from more than 1,000 encountered in October last year.
The influx of children recently forced the Biden administration to reopen a facility in Carrizo Springs, Texas.
According to the documents, Health and Human Services shelters held over 8,100 unaccompanied children as of Sunday, with space available for just 838 more.
Prior to restrictions being lifted by Biden’s Center for Disease Control (CDC) last Friday, Health and Human Services shelters maintained reduced capacity in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, migrant children shelters are just 13 days from being at “maximum capacity,” the documents revealed.
The CDC allowed the shelters to return to full capacity citing “extraordinary circumstances,” but still require the shelters implement enhanced coronavirus prevention procedures.
January marked the highest number of migrant encounters at the border in at least a decade, with Border agents coming across roughly 78,000 migrants in the first month of 2021 alone, the Times reported. While many adults are turned away, the rules for children are different, requiring they be taken into custody.
In the face of mounting problems at the border, the Department of Homeland Security has also asked department personnel to volunteer on the United States’ southern border with Mexico to help combat an “overwhelming” amount of migrants trying to enter the U.S.
“Today, I activated the Volunteer Force to support Customs and Border Protection (CBP) as they face a surge in migration along the Southwest Border,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in an email obtained by Fox News.
President Joe Biden and his administration have repeatedly refused to classify the situation on the border as a “crisis.”
When a reporter asked Biden if there was a crisis at the border, the president responded, “No, we’ll be able to handle it.”
Biden also told reporters he learned “a lot” after receiving a briefing about the border.