Just days after acknowledging they were reopening a tent facility to house teen immigrants near the Texas-Mexico border, the Biden administration is reportedly preparing to open another facility, according to the Washington Post.
Earlier this week, the Department of Health and Human Services said they were temporarily opening a facility in Carrizo Springs, Texas, specifically for teens who cross the border without a parent.
White House spokesperson Jen Psaki said the facility was needed because immigrant facilities are filled to capacity, and with COVID-19 safety precautions requiring social distancing, more space was needed.
“Our intention is very much to close it, but we want to ensure that we can follow …COVID protocols, as we — as unaccompanied minors come into the United States,” Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters this week.
The Carrizo Springs facility was open for a month in the summer of 2019 before closing.
Now, officials have told the Washington Post they are preparing to open another facility in Del Rio, Texas to house families and children crossing the U.S. border.
This facility would be run and used by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency.
The number of minors arriving at the U.S. border without a parent has been increasing over the last few months, and is now at around 300 migrants each day.
Law requires Customs and Border Patrol agents to deliver unaccompanied minors to Health and Human Services within 72 hours of arrival, but the influx of new arrivals and social distancing requirements inside facilities has led to a backlog.
HHS then oversees the process of finding sponsors and an adult to take custody of the minor, usually a parent or relative already living in the United States.
“What is happening now is there are children fleeing, fleeing threats in their own countries, traveling on their own, unaccompanied, to the border,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Thursday at a press briefing. “And our focus is on approaching this from the view of humanity and from, and with safety in mind.”
The Biden administration has recently introduced measures that would provide a path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants, they also reversed policies from former President Donald Trump that blocked the admission of unaccompanied minors into the U.S. and said those seeking asylum would now be able to wait for their hearings in the U.S.
Trump’s administration had made asylum seekers wait in other countries until their hearings, filling border towns on the Mexican side of the U.S.-Mexico border with refugees.
Those living in towns on the U.S. side of the border say they are waiting for the influx of immigrants from the new measures.