Here's the crisis: Journalists tour Texas CBP facility, report massive overcrowding

Two reporters from the Associated Press and a camera crew from CBS News were allowed inside the Donna, Texas holding facility today. What they witnessed was massive overcrowding with 4,100 people packed in a space which ought to only hold 250.

The Biden administration for the first time Tuesday allowed journalists inside its main border detention facility for migrant children, revealing a severely overcrowded tent structure where more than 4,000 people, including children and families, were crammed into a space intended for 250 and the youngest were kept in a large play pen with mats on the floor for sleeping…

The children were being housed by the hundreds in eight “pods” formed by plastic dividers, each about 3,200 square feet (297 square meters) in size. Many of the pods had more than 500 children in them.

Oscar Escamilla, acting executive officer of the U.S. Border Patrol in the Rio Grande Valley, said 250 to 300 kids enter daily and far fewer leave…

More than 2,000 kids have been at the Donna facility for more than 72 hours, including 39 for more than 15 days.

A CBS News reporter put together a thread on Twitter with photos of what they saw inside the facility. “We saw a ‘pod’ designed for 32 migrant children under CDC guidelines now holding 615.”

The youngest children are kept in his playpen:

Half the kids in this facility have been there longer than allowed by law.

Despite the bad conditions, some parents are now self-separating from their children and sending them across the border alone because word is out that they won’t be turned away. Deputy Chief Raul Ortiz told reporters, “The smugglers just drop them off.”

Tomorrow we should have preliminary numbers on how many unaccompanied minors arrived this month. It will almost certainly be a record for the past 20 years. But the real crisis is that next month could be worse. Axios reported yesterday that the Biden administration is predicting the crisis could continue into September with numbers of children arriving that will dwarf this month.

The Biden administration projects the number of unaccompanied children crossing the border could spiral from more than 16,000 this month to as many as 26,000 in September, according to documents leaked to Axios.

Why it matters: Until this month, the record was 11,475 in May 2019. The minimum projections for each of the next six months are thousands higher than that.

To give a sense of how out of hand the crossings are getting, the administration projected just a month ago the figure for May would be 13,000. The new estimate is 22,000 to 25,000.

Here’s a chart Axios created based on Biden admin. estimates.

If even the low projection on that chart is correct, then we’re talking about accepting and caring for roughly 120,000 more children over the next six months. That’s the population of a small city, not to mention all the people needed to take care of them.

That chart is a disaster waiting to happen but it’s also comforting in the sense that it shows a steady influx, one that with enough money and manpower directed at it could be managed. But what if the situation is worse than that. What happens if we leave the high projection in the dust next month just as we did this month? Or what if the numbers don’t drop much in the summer and then peak throughout the fall. It would be nice to think the Biden administration has a handle on the scope of this crisis, but I don’t see any real reason to assume that’s the case.

Here’s some video from today’s visit: