More than 4,000 unaccompanied migrant children are being kept in overcrowded facilities run by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), according to multiple reports.
CBS News notes that almost 3,000 of those children are being kept in the stations past the legal limit of 72 hours.
Ordinarily, unaccompanied migrant kids are supposed to be taken under the custody of the Health and Human Services (HHS) Department. However, the Biden administration has stated that the recent surge of arrivals at the southern border and health risks posed by the COVID-19 pandemic have overwhelmed the housing system.
Acknowledging that a CBP facility “is no place for a child,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced on Saturday that he had deployed the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to the border to assist with processing the minors.
The dire situation recalls a separate crisis under the Trump administration: the family separation policy, under which migrant families would be separated and kept in squalid conditions at CBP facilities. The Trump administration policy was implemented as part of the former president’s effort to vilify and punish immigrants traveling to the U.S.