As of Monday, more than 3,200 unaccompanied migrant children are in Customs and Border Protection custody, held in facilities that are intended for adults, CNN reports.
According to agency documents reviewed by CNN on Monday, about 2,600 kids are waiting to be sent to shelters run by the Department of Health and Human Services. Due to social distancing measures put in place because of the coronavirus pandemic, there are only 500 beds available. Under the law, migrant kids must be transferred from Border Patrol custody to HHS within 72 hours, so they can get a case manager and attempts can be made to reunite them with family or a sponsor.
Less than a week ago, there were 1,700 migrant children in Border Patrol custody, CNN reports. There has been an uptick in the number of unaccompanied children coming to the U.S. over the last few weeks, and even more are expected to cross as the weather begins to warm up. Experts say the increase is likely due to the pandemic, natural disasters, and the belief that the Biden administration won’t be as strict as the Trump administration.
In a statement, HHS said the “number of unaccompanied children in our care is constantly changing,” and the Office of Refugee Resettlement is “aggressively working with our interagency partners to ensure that unaccompanied migrant children are safe and unified with family members or other suitable sponsors as quickly and safely as possible.”
Over the weekend, several senior Biden administration officials, including Susan Rice, head of the Domestic Policy Council, visited the southern border to assess the situation on the ground, CNN reports.