The U.S. Customs and Border Protection released statistics on Wednesday, March 10, showing that the number of migrants attempting to cross the border every day in February was close to 3,500- which is a 28% increase since January. The number of unaccompanied minors also rose 60% since January, to over 9,400.
This increase in minors has left the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol working to move children from detention in Border Patrol holding cells to temporary shelters. However, they have not been able to keep up. Tuesday, March 9, 2,800 unaccompanied minors were waiting for a bed in shelters of less than 500 beds.
The law states that unaccompanied minors who attempt to cross the border must be turned over to the Department of Health and Human Services 72 hours after being taken into custody from Border Patrol. They are then placed with a sponsor, which can be a parent or relative who is living in the U.S. However, this process is taking much longer than usual due to the influx of unaccompanied minors. This is especially difficult as the number of beds for children is half capacity due to the pandemic.
The Biden administration announced it would restore shelters to full capacity, offering more beds to unaccompanied minors who are waiting. The White House’s Coordinator for the Southern Border, Roberta Jackson, announced that President Biden would restart the Central American Minors program that would allow 3,000 children to reunite with their parents who are legally in the U.S. These children have been caught in a legal stall for years after Trump canceled the program during his presidency.