Latest on the crisis at the US border: Live updates | CNN Politics (2024)

By Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya, Mike Hayes and Melissa Mahtani, CNN

Updated 5:09 PM EDT, Wed March 17, 2021

Latest on the crisis at the US border: Live updates | CNN Politics (3)

Video Ad Feedback

The faces of the immigration surge at the US-Mexico border

03:09 - Source: CNN

What we covered here

  • What’s happening at the border: A surge of unaccompanied migrant children are crossing the US-Mexico border alone.
  • Where the US stands: PresidentBidenis facing growing political tension — including from within his own party — over his administration’s strategy on the border.
  • Earlier today: Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas testified before a House committee about the ongoing influx of migrants, and told lawmakers that “the border is not open.”

Our live coverage has ended, but you can read more here.

16 Posts

White House reiterates Biden administration messaging that US-Mexico border is not open

From CNN's Jason Hoffman
Latest on the crisis at the US border: Live updates | CNN Politics (4)

White House press secretary Jen Psaki speaks during a press briefing on Wednesday, March 17, in Washington, DC.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki continued the administration’s messaging that migrants should not attempt to come to the US right now as the southern border sees a surge in migrants, specifically unaccompanied children.

Psaki pushed back on a reporter’s question as to whether the US might be, intentionally or otherwise, incentivizing parents to send their unaccompanied children to the United States, echoing the president’s warning to would be migrants.

She added that every administration official that speaks about the situation at the border is urging people not to come to the US right now, specifically mentioning Department of Homeland Security secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, who testified on Capitol Hill today about the surge in migrants.

“The border is secure and the border is not open,” Mayorkas said.

Psaki, again declining to call the border situation a crisis, said it is “no doubt a complicated circ*mstance,” but the administration is trying to “address this in an effective and humane manner.”

She said that the President hopes to work with Congress to address the root causes of migration, because if those root causes are not addressed, cycles of surges in migrants could continue.

Earlier in the briefing, Psaki said that the administration has no plans on putting a cap on the number of unaccompanied minors allowed into the US.

“We’re not going to send a 10 year old back across the border. That was the policy of the last administration, that’s not our policy here,” she said.

White House won't commit to timeline to allow press access to migrant facilities at the border

From CNN's DJ Judd
Latest on the crisis at the US border: Live updates | CNN Politics (5)

White House press secretary Jen Psaki speaks during a press briefing on March 15, in Washington, DC.

In an exchange Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki dismissed reports the White House was blocking press access to migrant facilities at the border.

She told reporters in the Briefing Room,we remain committed to sharing with all of you, data on the number of kids crossing the border, the steps we’re taking, the work we’re doing to open up facilities, our own bar we’re setting for ourselves on improving and expediting the timeline and the, the treatment of these children.”

Still, Psaki said, “I don’t have an update for you on the timeline for access, but it’s certainly something we support.”

Pressed on if the White House has ordered border agents not to allow reporters on ride alongs, as they had in the Trump administration, Psaki dodged, telling reporters, “It’s coordinated through the Department of Homeland Security and I point you to them for any additional questions about the logistics of press access.”

The White House has not allowed press access to facilities used to house migrants, despite repeated requests, citing privacy concerns and the ongoing pandemic.

Again, we fully support transparency,” Psaki told reporters in a follow up, “and I would encourage you to talk to the Department of Homeland Security about any requests you have for press access or what you’re looking to accomplish at the border.”

The House will take up two immigration bills tomorrow as political tensions over border surge mount

From CNN's Annie Grayer
Latest on the crisis at the US border: Live updates | CNN Politics (6)

As the situation at the border continues to develop, back in Washington, House Democrats are looking to move forward with legislation that would provide a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants,a key pillar of President Biden’s immigration plan.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer announced on a press call Tuesday that the House will officially be taking up twoimmigrationbillson the floor this Thursday: The Dream & Promise Act and the Farmworker Workforce Modernization Act.

Hoyer admitted, “these twobillsare not the fix, but they are fix to part of the problem.”

Hoyer vowed that the House will pass comprehensiveimmigrationreform “in the coming months,” even as that path seems increasingly unlikely in the Senate especially in light of Senator Dick Durbin’s comments to CNN’s Manu Raju on Mondaysayinghe doesn’t believe there’s enough support in this Congress to pass a full-blownimmigrationbill with a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants.

“We need to pass comprehensiveimmigrationreform and we are going to do so in the coming months,” Hoyer said.

Digging in deeper Hoyer later added, “we promised to our base that we were for comprehensiveimmigrationreform. We are. We’re going to be working on that.”

“It is my expectation that we will bring as I said a comprehensive bill to the floor,” he added.

Asked whether the situation at the border is affecting the debate onimmigration, Hoyer pushed back by saying, “let’s be honest. The Republicans have for a long period of time usedimmigrationas a political football to impart fear and apprehension in the minds of Americans.”

“Republicans demagogue this issue” Hoyer added, making clear that he thinks the GOP are leaning into this because “they believe it’s a political benefit for them.”

Hoyer said that there is consensus that theimmigrationsystem is broken, namely because there is not an effective path to citizenship, and argued that what’s happening at the border now “is an example of, the results of it being broken, and the Biden administration clearly recognizes there’s a challenge.”

Coming to the defense of the Biden administration’s handling of the growing crisis at the border, Hoyer added, “they have been in office now for what, 54 days or something like that. And they’re going to try to deal with the problem, but they want to fix the problem. Dealing with the problem in a way that demagogues the problem has not been helpful, is not helpful.”

Here's a look at some key figures about the border and the deeper stories behind them

From CNN's Catherine E. Shoichet
Latest on the crisis at the US border: Live updates | CNN Politics (7)

A Mexican National Guard soldier stands along the bank of the Rio Grande while guarding the U.S.-Mexico border on March 15, in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.

The new details emerging daily at the US-Mexico border are tough to track.

It’s a fast-moving situation, described by the Biden administrationas a “stressful challenge”and decried by critics of immigrationas a “crisis.”There are a lot of developments we’re still learning in real time.

Here’s a look at some of the key numbers we’ve been hearing, the deeper stories behind them and the questions we have:

More than 3,700

  • What this number represents:How many unaccompanied migrant children were in Customs and Border Protection custodyas of last Wednesday
  • The deeper story behind it:This is a higher number than we’ve seen before. At the peak of the 2019 border crisis — when there were overcrowded facilities and children sleeping on the ground — there were around 2,600 unaccompanied children in Border Patrol custody,a former CBP official told CNN. The treatment of kids in custody is one of the thornie*st issues at the border. One of the largest public outcries we heard during the Trump administration came when monitors revealedsqualid conditions inside CBP facilities where children were held. We haven’t heard much about the current conditions in these facilities. But it’s concerning, becausethe number of children arriving is outpacing the Biden administration’s ability to place them in sheltersoverseen by the Department of Health and Human Services. And due to limited capacity at shelters,children are being held in CBP facilities beyond the 72-hour limit the law requires.
  • The questions we have:Will the Biden administration open new facilities to house these children? Is this record high number of kids in CBP custody a sign of a major shift? Or will we see numbers stabilize as the new administration finds its footing?

More than 100,000

  • What this number represents:Encounters and arrests of migrants by US authoritiesin the past month.
  • The deeper story behind it:This is a big number and getting a lot of attention. But context is also key. Because a pandemic policy remains in place that allows migrants to be swiftly kicked out of the country without going through as many steps, advocates say these statistics can also include repeated crossing attempts by individuals. One reason these latest numbers are raising eyebrows: Usually the number of migrants crossing goes down in the winter, and creeps upward in the spring. The fact that we’re already seeing higher numbers could be a sign that we’ll keep seeing the number of migrants at the border grow.
  • The questions we have:What’s fueling this increase? Will the large numbers force the administration to adopt more restrictive policies on immigration, or will officials find a way to balance theirmore humanitarian policy goals with growing pressure at the border?

Read more here.

Texas governor says Biden administration is "enticing unaccompanied minors into inhumane conditions"

From CNN’s Carma Hassan
Latest on the crisis at the US border: Live updates | CNN Politics (8)

Texas Governor Greg Abbott delivers an announcement in Montelongo's Mexican Restaurant on Tuesday, March 2, in Lubbock, Texas.

GOP Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said today that the Biden administration must “answer for enticing unaccompanied minors into inhumane conditions” that “expose these children to traffickers, to abuse, and to terror.”

The governor made his remarks at a news conference held across the street from the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center, which is one of several sites preparing to house unaccompanied minors who cross the Texas-Mexico border.

The governor said border crossings are up and “on pace to hit a 20-year high.”

The Biden administration has stopped short of calling the situation at the border a “crisis.”Speaking duringhis first congressional hearing since confirmation, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told lawmakers thesituation at the borderis “undoubtedly difficult.”

In response to the top Republican on the committee, Rep. John Katko, Mayorkas said, “I’m not spending any time on the language that we use.”

The use of the word “crisis” has become a sticking point for the administration, as the White House has also declined use the description, sometimes referring to it as a “challenge.”

Mayorkas later said, “I will share with you how I define a crisis. A crisis is when a nation is willing to rip a 9-year-old child out of the hands of his or her parent and separate that family to deter future migration. That to me is a humanitarian crisis.”

In an interview with ABC on Tuesday, President Biden discouraged migrants from crossing the border saying,“I can say quite clearly: Don’t come.”

Why migrant children are being held in facilities for more than the law allows

From CNN's Priscilla AlvarezandGeneva Sands

With an increasing number of children crossing the US-Mexico border alone, Border Patrol facilities are where kids have to stay until officials can transfer them to shelters that are appropriate for them. These facilities are designed to care for adults, not kids, and are akin to jail-like facilities with concrete walls and benches.

Children at stations in the Tucson, Arizona, region, for instance, have to be transported from Border Patrol stations to a central coordination center to get showers, the Border Patrol agent told CNN.

Federal law requires unaccompanied children to be turned over within 72 hours to the Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees a shelter network designed to house minors.

The senior official heading Customs and Border Protection, Troy Miller, told reporters that minors receive three meals daily, have 24/7 access to snacks and drinks and that showers are provided at least every 48 hours. They also have access to a recreation area, Miller said.

Homeland Security SecretaryAlejandro Mayorkas acknowledged the scope of the problem.

“The Border Patrol facilities have become crowded with children and the 72-hour timeframe for the transfer of children from the Border Patrol to [HHS] is not always met,” Mayorkas said in a statement Tuesday.

“HHS has not had the capacity to intake the number of unaccompanied children we have been encountering,” Mayorkas said.

In February, more than 9,400 children — ranging in ages — crossed the US-Mexico border,according to the latest available data from Customs and Border Protection. That’s up from January and is expected to continue trending upward.

On Monday, CBP encountered around 570 unaccompanied children, CNN has learned. Seventy-six were 12 years old and under.

“March will be bigger than February,” in terms of apprehensions based on current data, “and quite ugly” the Homeland Security official said.

The Biden administration plans to use a Dallas convention center to shelter migrant teenage boys

From CNN's Priscilla AlvarezandAshley Killough,
Latest on the crisis at the US border: Live updates | CNN Politics (9)

In this March 31, 2020, file photo, a sign sits in front of the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in downtown Dallas.

TheBiden administrationplans to use a convention center in Dallas to hold more than 2,000 migrant teenagers, according to a Department of Homeland Security official and a city memo obtained by CNN.

The Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center would be temporarily used to shelter teenage boys who arrived at the US-Mexico border alone, the official said.

Rocky Vaz, director of the Office of Emergency Management in Dallas, described the facility as a “decompression center” and told city leaders it would house teen boys ages 15 to 17 “to help relieve the overcrowding currently at the border,” according to the memo.

The plans,first reported by The Associated Press, mark the latest attempt by the administration to keep up with the number of unaccompanied children at the US-Mexico border. In the absence of additional shelter space, facilities along the border have been under increased strain.

As of Sunday, there weremore than 4,200 childrenin US Border Patrol custody.

Lawyerswho spoke with about a dozen children held in a Border Patrol facilityin Texas said kids were terrified, crying and worried about not being able to speak with family members. Some said they hadn’t seen sunlight in days. Others said that if they were lucky, they would go outside for 20 minutes every few days.

Officials have been scrambling to find space to accommodate children and cut down on their time in Border Patrol facilities, which are intended to process adults, not care for children.

HHS recently opened a new emergency intake site in Texas to process the growing number of children crossing the US-Mexico border alone, the department said.

CNN’s Kaitlan Collins contributed reporting to this post.

"The border is secure and the border is not open," Homeland Security secretary says

From CNN's Geneva SandsandPriscilla Alvarez
Latest on the crisis at the US border: Live updates | CNN Politics (10)

A migrant walks amid tents at an improvised camp outside El Chaparral crossing port as he and others wait for US authorities to allow them to start their migration process in Tijuana, Baja California state, Mexico, on March 11.

President Biden discouraged would-be migrants from coming to the United States, telling ABC News on Tuesday, “I can say quite clearly: Don’t come.”

The President continued: “We’re in the process of getting set up. Don’t leave your town or city or community.”

Homeland Security SecretaryAlejandro Mayorkas continued that theme in today’s House hearing, saying: “The border is secure and the border is not open” when asked by Democratic Rep.Sheila Jackson Lee to succinctly describe his border policy and moving migrant children to temporary sites.

Mayorkas said they are not expelling children who are unaccompanied without a parent or a legal guardian and noted that they are “caring for their custody and their sheltering.”

Republicans pushed back on Mayorkas’ characterization of the situation at the border. New York Rep. John Katko, the top Republican on the committee, said the situation on the border, where he just visited, continues to “get worse everyday with inadequate action or even proper acknowledgement of the severity of the situation.”

“I can tell you without hesitation that it is indeed a crisis that continues to deepen each and every day,” he said.

Homeland Security secretary won't call border situation a "crisis"

From CNN's Geneva Sands
Latest on the crisis at the US border: Live updates | CNN Politics (11)

Homeland Security SecretaryAlejandro Mayorkas.

Homeland Security SecretaryAlejandro Mayorkasdeclined to call the situation along the Southwest border a “crisis” during his first congressional testimony since taking office.

In response to the top Republican on the committee, Rep. John Katko, Mayorkas said, “I’m not spending any time on the language that we use.”

The use of the word “crisis” has become a sticking point for the administration, as the White House has also declined use the description, sometimes referring to it as a “challenge.”

Mayorkas later said, “I will share with you how I define a crisis. A crisis is when a nation is willing to rip a 9-year-old child out of the hands of his or her parent and separate that family to deter future migration. That to me is a humanitarian crisis.”

He said President Biden is committed to ensuring an “immigration system works” and that migration to the US is “safe, orderly and humane.”

Watch:

Latest on the crisis at the US border: Live updates | CNN Politics (12)

Video Ad Feedback

23d73834-ad7b-4875-bf02-6eb3bd59506c.mp4

00:45 - Source: cnn

CNN asked immigrants on the border why they're coming to the US. Here's what they told us.

From CNN's Ed Lavandera,Rosa Flores,Ashley KilloughandSara Weisfeldt
Latest on the crisis at the US border: Live updates | CNN Politics (13)

Roxana Rivera.

On the banks of the Rio Grande near the south Texas city of Hildalgo, dozens of undocumented migrants — mostly women and young children — descended a hill on the Mexican side of the border in an orderly procession.

The sun set Thursday over an all-too-familiar portrait of desperation in the the Rio Grande Valley. Some women carried wailing babies while others hauled bags of belongings to the edge of the muddy river, where a group of men awaited them with life vests to take turns crossing from Mexico to the United States. That day alone, authorities said, 2,000 migrants were apprehended in the valley.

“From Honduras,” several migrants shouted at a CNN correspondent who asked where they were from. Some had been traveling for months — fleeing violence, poverty and the destruction wrought bya pair of hurricanes,they said. CNN observed the raft make about half a dozen trips across the river.

“We come for a new opportunity,” said one man, who traveled with his wife and young daughter.

The scene reflects asurge of migrants, particularly children,challenging the new administration of President Biden, who entered officepromising to reverse the hardline policiesof his predecessor.

Roxana Rivera, 28, said she and her six-year-old daughter left Honduras after back-to-back November hurricanes destroyed her home and everything in it.

Word back home, Rivera said, was that the US was now allowing people with children to freely cross the border — which wasn’t entirely true. She heard that on the news, she said. Relatives in the US relayed the same information. Other migrants had similar stories.

Rivera said she was elated when the group she crossed the border with — mostly mothers and their children — was picked up by border agents. The migrants were processed, then taken to a bus station in Brownsville, Texas, where they were tested for Covid-19 and offered supplies by nonprofits before their release. She planned to stay with relatives in Houston while her immigration case is processed.

Rivera said she at times regretted embarking on the long journey north by foot and by train— putting her daughter’s life at risk. Sometimes the girl would ask for food and she had none to offer her. One time, she said, her daughter became dehydrated. Another time she had to seek medical attention in Mexico when her daughter had a fever.

Maria Mendoza, a 30-year-old migrant from El Salvador, appeared exhausted as she arrived in Brownsville after processing by immigration officials. She was hoping to reunite with relatives who live in Maryland, she said through tears.

Mendoza recalled that the raft she and others used on a midnight crossing of the Rio Grande flipped over, sending several mothers and their children into the water. She said there were days when she did not eat so that her 6-year-old daughter would not go hungry. Her daughter remembered evading a snake along the way.

“More than anything I want to be reunited with my family,” she said. “We want to make a life here. A better future for our children.”

Read more here.

Here's how the Homeland Security secretary says he wants to see the immigration system changed

From CNN's Elise Hammond
Latest on the crisis at the US border: Live updates | CNN Politics (14)

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said the situation on the southern border cannot be fixed overnight, but it shows why the country needs to rebuild its immigration policies.

Mayorkas is testifying in front of lawmakers today and he’s expected to be grilled on the surge of migrants being held at the border, causing officials scramble to provide resourcesfor the increasein minorsand families.

Here is what Mayorkas says the US needs to do about the current situation:

  1. Address the root of the problem by engaging with governments to alleviate violence and corruption that drives migrants from their homes.
  2. Work with humanitarian organizations to provide protection for migrants as close to home as possible. These are things like refugee resettlement and family reunification programs.
  3. Help other countries in the region improve their asylum capabilities and protect migrants.
  4. Improve the system for processing migrants at the border and get to their asylum claims in a “fair and timely way.”

“While these efforts will dramatically improve migration management in the region and help to restore safe and orderly processing at the border, they will take time, as the President noted. Addressing longstanding challenges after the dismantling of the system cannot be accomplished overnight,” Mayorkas said.

Here is what he wants to change about the immigration system:

  • Provide pathways to citizenship “for hardworking people who enrich our communities every day and who have lived in the United States for years, in some cases for decades,” he said.
  • Allow people who are undocumented to apply for temporary legal status, and eventually apply for lawful permanent residency after five years if they pass criminal and national security background checks and pay their taxes.
  • Prioritize keeping families together.
  • Implement protections for workers from being exploited while also ensuring fairness for US workers. Mayorkas said he would also want to see the employment verification process improved.
  • Creates safe and legal channels for people to seek protection.

“We are rebuilding an immigration system that was systematically dismantled during the prior administration. We are making risk-based investments in our border management system to create safe, legal, and humane pathways to asylum and humanitarian protection,” he said.

Watch:

Latest on the crisis at the US border: Live updates | CNN Politics (15)

Video Ad Feedback

5929efa4-dfc8-4a39-9d0c-a37f54bed126.mp4

02:33 - Source: cnn

Homeland Security secretary calls situation at the border "undoubtedly difficult"

From CNN's Elise Hammond
Latest on the crisis at the US border: Live updates | CNN Politics (16)

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in his written opening statement that the department is facing a variety of problems right now – including the current situation at the border, which he said is “undoubtedly difficult.”

Mayorkas is testifying before the House Homeland Security Committee where he is expected to face questions about the ongoinginflux of migrantsat the US-Mexico border.

Mayorkas pointed to the ongoing influx of children, testifying that the department has increased its capacity to hold children until the Department of Health and Human Services can shelter them while it identifies and vets the children’s sponsors. He also pointed to FEMA’s involvement in this effort.

As of Tuesday, more than300 unaccompanied migrant childrenhad been in Border Patrol custody for more than 10 days, CNN has learned. More than 4,200 minors were in custody, with an average time of 120 hours.

“The Department must do this important work while always remaining faithful to the law, our mission, and our country’s values,” he said in his opening statement.

Here are the areas where Mayorkas said the department is focusing its efforts:

  • Rebuilding the immigration system and securing the US border: “Let me be clear that the Department continues to enforce our immigration laws and responsibly manage our border, while we restore fairness and efficiency in our immigration system, which was systematically dismantled during the last four years,” he said. Mayorkas also gave several ideas on how to rebuild the current system, but emphasized security and facing current security challenges.
  • Covid-19: Mayorkas said DHS is supporting the federal government’s response to the pandemic by assisting with vaccine distribution and administration efforts across the country. He said Transportation Security Administrationhas been protecting those who are traveling and ICE Homeland Security Investigationshas launched operations to protect Americans from Covid-related fraud and criminal activity.
  • Strengthening cybersecurity and infrastructure: “The recent cyber intrusion campaigns affecting federal agencies and private sector organizations are a clarion call to urgently improve our national cybersecurity and resilience,” he said, directly referencing attacks on Microsoft and SolarWinds.
  • Domestic violent extremism: Mayorkas said the most terrorists threats against the US come from “lone offenders and small groups of individuals” who are motivated by a variety of “extreme” beliefs. He pointed to the riot at the US Capitol on January 6 as evidence of this threat.

Biden's DHS secretary is facing lawmakers this morning. Here's what we know about the hearing.

From CNN's Geneva SandsandPriscilla Alvarez
Latest on the crisis at the US border: Live updates | CNN Politics (17)

Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas speaks during the daily press briefing at the White House on March 1, in Washington.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas is testifying before lawmakers this morning in a House committee, where he is expected to face questions about the ongoinginflux of migrantsat the US-Mexico border.

His appearance before the House Homeland Security Committee comes as the Biden administrationstruggles to accommodate the growing number of childrencrossing the US-Mexico border alone against the backdrop of a pandemic that’s strained resources, particularly shelter space.

As of Tuesday, more than300 unaccompanied migrant childrenhad been in Border Patrol custody for more than 10 days, CNN has learned. More than 4,200 minors were in custody, with an average time of 120 hours.

Mayorkas, who is testifying on Capitol Hill for the first time sincehis confirmation, said the situation at the border was “difficult” and acknowledged that children are not being transferred to US Department of Health and Human Services custody within the three-day legal limit.

Some more background: HHS has not had the capacity to take the number of unaccompanied children encountered at the border, he added. Federal law requires unaccompanied children to be turned over within 72 hours to HHS, which oversees a shelter network designed to house minors.

In February, more than 9,400 unaccompanied children — ranging in ages — crossed the US-Mexico border, according to thelatest available datafrom Customs and Border Protection. That’s up from January and is expected to continue trending upward.

On Tuesday, President Joe Bidendiscouraged would-be migrantsfrom coming to the United States, telling ABC, “I can say quite clearly: Don’t come.”

What things are like in the Border Patrol facilities where migrant children are held

From CNN's Priscilla AlvarezandGeneva Sands,
Latest on the crisis at the US border: Live updates | CNN Politics (18)

A U.S. Border Patrol agent delivers a young asylum seeker and his family to a bus station on February 26, in Brownsville, Texas.

Children are alternating schedules to make space for one another in confined facilities, some kids haven’t seen sunlight in days, and others are taking turns showering, often going days without one.

That’s the reality for the thousands ofunaccompanied migrant childrenheld up in US Border Patrol custody for days on end, according to case managers, attorneys and Border Patrol agents.

Bunk beds have been brought in to one of the processing facilities to help accommodate the influx of children. “Some of those are up to three bunks high,” an agent told CNN, adding that children are also sleeping on plastic cots and mats on the floor and benches.

Customs and Border Protection is on pace to encounter more individuals on the border than in the last 20 years, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said Tuesday, adding that the agency is coming across children as young as six and seven years old.

More than 300 unaccompanied migrant children have been in Border Patrol custody for more than 10 days, CNN has learned. More than 4,200 minors are currently in custody, with an average time of 120 hours.

With an increasing number of children crossing the US-Mexico border alone, Border Patrol facilities are where kids have to stay until officials can transfer them to shelters that are appropriate for them. These facilities are designed to care for adults, not kids, and are akin to jail-like facilities with concrete walls and benches.

Children at stations in the Tucson, Arizona, region, for instance, have to be transported from Border Patrol stations to a central coordination center to get showers, the Border Patrol agent told CNN.

Federal law requires unaccompanied children to be turned over within 72 hours to the Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees a shelter network designed to house minors.

The senior official heading Customs and Border Protection, Troy Miller, told reporters that minors receive three meals daily, have 24/7 access to snacks and drinks and that showers are provided at least every 48 hours. They also have access to a recreation area, Miller said.

Read more here.

Why so many children are crossing the US-Mexico border alone

From CNN's Catherine E. Shoichet
Latest on the crisis at the US border: Live updates | CNN Politics (19)

A migrant girl walks at an improvised camp outside El Chaparral crossing port as her and other wait for US authorities to allow them to start their migration process in Tijuana, Baja California state, Mexico, on March 11.

The statistics are staggering.More than 400,000 migrant childrenhave crossed the US border without their parents since 2003.

And each time a new wave arrives, political controversy follows.

The numbers are on the riseagain,with some children arriving who are as young as 6 or 7. This increase is sparkingfierce debatein Washington,concern from children’s advocatesandan emergency response from the Biden administration.

Why have so many kids madethis dangerous journey? And what happens to them once they reach the United States?

Here are some of the key things we know:

They’re fleeing desperate conditions: There aremany different reasonsmigrant children travel alone to the United States. CNN’s years of reporting at the border and conversations with experts reveal a common thread: It’s not a decision any family makes lightly.

Many of these children, who the government dubs “unaccompanied minors,” make asylum claims when they arrive becausethey’re fleeing persecution, gang violence and other forms of organized crime.Dire economic circ*mstances in their home countries may also contribute to their decisions to leave.

Many already have family members living in the United States: Children who cross the border alone are first held in Customs and Border Protection custody, then transferred to shelters run by the Department of Health and Human Services, where they’re held until they’re released to sponsors in the United States.

Changing policies are giving them a chance for now:

So why are we seeing another surge of unaccompanied minors crossing the border now? There aremany contributing factors at play in migrants’ home countries– and also a big change the Biden administration made.

Officials recently ended a controversial Trump administration policy that was put in place during the pandemic. That policy, which cited public health concerns, allowed the US government to kick out children who came to the border without giving them a chance to seek asylum. Critics said it flew in the face of international law and human rights norms, and endangered the lives of children seeking safety.

The Biden administration hasstressed that the border isn’t open, and officials have pledged to turn back most adults and families who cross. But Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas says the cases of unaccompanied minors are different.

Read more here.

Biden to migrants: "Don't come, and while we're in a process of getting set up, don't leave"

From CNN's Jason Hoffman
Latest on the crisis at the US border: Live updates | CNN Politics (20)

President Joe Biden stops briefly to talk to the press as he walks toward Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House on March 16 in Washington.

PresidentBidenexpanded on immigration policies his administration hopes to implement, attempting to draw a major distinction between his policies and that of the Trump administration, something the administration has been focused on as the number of migrants in custody at thebordersurges.

He added that many of the unaccompanied children come to theborderwith a phone number and his administration is working on setting up a system that would allow the US government to contact that number and determine, within seven days, if there is a safe and secure place for that child to go.

CNN has reportedthat more than 300 unaccompanied migrant children have been inBorderPatrol custody for more than 10 days, and that more than 4,200 minors are currently in custody, with an average time of 120 hours.

Bidenalso stressed that those seeking asylum should remain where they are as the administration works to set up the system of applying for asylum in place.

“We’re in the process of getting set up, and it’s not going to take a whole long time, is to be able to apply for asylum in place, so don’t leave your town or city or community. We’re going to make sure we have facilities in those cities and towns run by DHS and also access with HHS, the health and human services to say, you can apply for asylum from where you are right now. Make your case. We’ll have people there to determine whether or not you are able to meet the requirements and you qualify for asylum,” he said.

Ad Feedback

Ad Feedback

READ MORE

Mayorkas faces lawmakers amid unaccompanied-migrant crisis at the border
Fact-checking Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas’ claims about the border situation
Why so many kids cross the border alone
Biden tells migrants not to come to US: ‘Don’t leave your town’
Border crisis stymies Congress as GOP bashes Biden and Democrats spar internally over immigration strategy

Ad Feedback

READ MORE

Mayorkas faces lawmakers amid unaccompanied-migrant crisis at the border
Fact-checking Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas’ claims about the border situation
Why so many kids cross the border alone
Biden tells migrants not to come to US: ‘Don’t leave your town’
Border crisis stymies Congress as GOP bashes Biden and Democrats spar internally over immigration strategy
Latest on the crisis at the US border: Live updates | CNN Politics (2024)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Dr. Pierre Goyette

Last Updated:

Views: 5564

Rating: 5 / 5 (50 voted)

Reviews: 81% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Dr. Pierre Goyette

Birthday: 1998-01-29

Address: Apt. 611 3357 Yong Plain, West Audra, IL 70053

Phone: +5819954278378

Job: Construction Director

Hobby: Embroidery, Creative writing, Shopping, Driving, Stand-up comedy, Coffee roasting, Scrapbooking

Introduction: My name is Dr. Pierre Goyette, I am a enchanting, powerful, jolly, rich, graceful, colorful, zany person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.