Thousands of immigrant children are again detained by the U.S. Border Patrol Reuters

© Reuters. File photo: Unaccompanied minor immigrants from Central America enter the U.S. after crossing the Rio Grande River from Mexico in Rome, Texas, U.S. on July 30, 2021, awaiting processing by the U.S. Border Patrol. REUTERS/Go Nakamura

Authors: Mica Rosenberg and Go Nakamura

Rome, Texas (Reuters)-An analysis of U.S. government data shows that the number of immigrant children in border patrol facilities has been steadily increasing, as the number of people crossing the U.S.-Mexico border hit a record high in July, once again becoming The politically sensitive issue of President Joe Biden.

According to daily statistics provided by the government since March and compiled by Reuters, on August 1, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) detained more than 2,200 unaccompanied children, more than double the amount a month ago .

A CBP spokesperson said that this number includes Mexican children who quickly returned to their home countries, as well as Central American children who were transferred to U.S. federal shelters.

According to a person familiar with the matter, the average time for unaccompanied children under CBP supervision is about 60 hours, slightly less than the 72-hour limit set by a long-term court settlement. However, according to another source familiar with the data, as of Tuesday, 877 children have been detained for more than 72 hours.

(Chart about the number of migrant children in custody:

The recent rise has shocked immigration advocates who say these facilities are not suitable for young children, although the level is still lower than the level when CBP held more than 5,700 unaccompanied children at the border station in mid-March.

David Shaholian, a senior U.S. Department of Homeland Security official, said in a court statement on Monday that border patrol agents may have encountered a record number of unaccompanied children in July, exceeding 19,000.

At the same time, he said, overall concerns, including families and single adults, are expected to reach their highest level ever in the fiscal year. These numbers include individuals who may have traversed multiple times.

Shahoulian said this situation is straining resources. As of August 1, the border patrol facility has exceeded the capacity limit set by the southwest border during the COVID period, and more than 10,000 people have been detained in the Rio Grande Valley alone.

(Graph of border concerns:

Children traveling alone should be transferred from the CBP guardianship to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services shelter, where they wait to be released to a U.S. sponsor, usually a parent or other family member.

Government daily statistics show that there are now more than 14,400 children living in HHS shelters.

CBP stated that its ability to remove unaccompanied children out of its facilities depends on the capabilities of HHS. HHS said in a statement that the agency “has not encountered any delays so far and could not determine the appropriate location in our shelter network in a timely manner.”

Earlier this year, the Biden administration was under tremendous pressure from advocacy groups and fellow Democrats to move children out of the overcrowded CBP border facilities more quickly rather than to accommodate them. The government has set up more emergency shelters, and the number of children in CBP border facilities has dropped rapidly.

But since then, some large conference centers that were converted into families and children have been closed, and now there are only four emergency shelters, as well as existing state-licensed facilities and foster family networks.

Several whistleblowers filed complaints against one of the emergency sites still open in Fort Bliss, Texas, claiming that “organizational chaos” and mismanagement by private contractors have resulted in conditions endangering children. The Office of the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services stated on its website on Monday that it will investigate “Fort Bliss case management challenges that may hinder the safe and timely release of children to sponsors.”

Hundreds of rafts

According to an eyewitness from Reuters, during the two nights last week, hundreds of mainly Central American immigrants, including families with young children and unaccompanied children, travelled through the river near Rome, Texas. Arrived on a raft after the Ogrande River.

They handed themselves over to border guards, who were distributing masks and lining up to deal with them. Most people don’t carry anything with them, and some come from countries that are experiencing a new round of political turmoil, such as Haiti.

According to Biden’s Trump-era public health policies, many people face immediate deportation. However, Biden exempts unaccompanied children from this policy. Families are still bound by this policy-on paper, but in reality, most families are allowed to file immigration cases in US courts.

Images posted on Twitter over the weekend showed hundreds of people crowded under a bridge in Mission, Texas, where agents held immigrants outside. With growing concerns about the rapid spread of the Coronavirus Delta variant, the number of immigrants in detention continues to increase, worrying local officials.

The Texas Border Alliance organized the mayors, county judges, and economic development committees along the Texas-Mexico border, and said in a letter to the Secretary of Homeland Security, Alejandro Majorcas , Did not get more immediate attention, “This situation has a growing possibility of getting out of control.”

Chart on the number of migrant children detained

Figure 1 About border arrest

Figure 2 About border arrest

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