President Biden is busy reversing the Trump administration’s border security policies. Biden is heading straight into his own administration’s crisis on the southern border and has only himself to blame. There is a surge of unaccompanied minors coming to the U.S.-Mexican border.
It’s deja vu all over again. Joe Biden has some knowledge of the problems with handling waves of illegal immigrants flooding the southern border if his memory serves him. Back in 2014, the Obama-Biden administration was faced with crisis-level numbers of immigrants gambling on sneaking across the border without consequences. The problem then was that the numbers were so large that they were in plain sight. Border patrol officials were overwhelmed. Shelters were set up at the border for children in order to protect them until arrangements could be made for them. Migrants were sending their children off on their own toward the southern border. Their reason for the separation was that the children wouldn’t be refused entry, while adults likely would.
Under the law, once unaccompanied children are stopped by the border patrol, they have 72 hours to transfer the children to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). HHS then puts them in a shelter, and they find placement for them somewhere in the United States. The Obama administration constructed 72-hour holding facilities to handle a sudden influx of migrants. President Trump faced a growing crisis on the border of his own. He took swift action to secure the border with policies like setting up more facilities to handle the children and families, as well as beginning to build a border wall to stop the flow of migrants over the border.
One of the facilities used during the Trump administration is in Carrizo Springs, Texas. It is called an overflow shelter. The shelter was closed under the Trump administration when it was no longer needed. All of the children held there were discharged. It is a 1,300-bed facility that provided cleaner and safer conditions for prolonged detention when there was no other space in permanent shelters. The facility was operated by a San Antonio-based nonprofit, BCFS Health and Human Services. President Biden has signaled he has no intention of using private companies in his immigration reform plan. The Carrizo Springs complex is a large one and expensive to run. The cost runs from roughly $750 to $800 per child per day. The property includes dormitories, trailers, and tents and also has its own fire department and emergency medical team. The Biden administration is now reported to be opening the facility back up. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the facility will only be able to hold about 700 children.
In other words, Biden is going to have to use the same policy on the border that Trump did. The dirty little secret is that there are few options available to any administration when it comes to holding unaccompanied minors at the border. Biden is eager to look like he is coming in and undoing Trump’s policies but the reality is that he will be doing much the same as Trump did. Re-opening the Carrizo Springs facility is proof of that. Biden’s options are limited.
The Trump administration was lambasted for its extended use of the temporary shelters and so-called “tent cities” when holding facilities were overwhelmed during the migrant crisis in 2019. Biden’s rhetoric and intentions differ, but that doesn’t change his challenge: when apprehensions rise and space runs out, the options are limited.
Temporary shelters are controversial because they aren’t subject to the same state licensing and monitoring of the long-term facilities, experts say.
The Texas site can accommodate tent-like facilities in case of a surge. The senior official said children at the influx shelter will receive education, medical and mental health care and all of the other services that they would in other shelters.
If, as reported, the Biden administration is already planning to notify Congress of their intention to re-open this facility, you can be sure that others that were closed will likely be given a second look if the overflow of unaccompanied minors warrant it. With Biden’s promise to halt deportations (his executive order is temporarily halted by a federal judge) and pledges of amnesty for all, migrants are flocking to the border, and the numbers of those currently in custody will quickly rise.
There are currently about 5,000 children in HHS’ care.
The number is still safely below normal capacity — and far below the 2019 crisis levels when the monthly, average shelter population reached 14,000. But it’s about twice the number compared to late November.
Meanwhile, coronavirus precautions have cut the available beds by about half.
Sunday, there were 260 referrals of children to shelters, according to one internal report reviewed by Axios. That’s not far off the 294 average at the peak of the child migrant crisis in June 2019, according to public agency data.
Biden will face the additional challenge of more limited space in facilities due to the coronavirus pandemic, something that Trump didn’t initially face. Trump was painted as some kind of beast for doing what had to be done, detaining unaccompanied minors to protect them and try to find them a place to go. Biden is the worst kind of liberal hypocrite, having served in an administration that faced the same challenge. Now he can face his comeuppance. His own words have caused false hope for scores of desperate migrants. Let him deal with what comes next.