The Biden administration is looking at using Fort Lee, a Virginia Army base, as a site to house a surge in unaccompanied migrant children, according to Reuters, citing at US Department of Health and Human services (HHS) notice and confirmed by a Pentagon spokesman.
In the notice, HHS said it urgently needs to find more shelter space for unaccompanied minors. The department said it must “aggressively” find solutions for the rising number of children entering the country amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
This, after Homeland Security Director Alejandro Mayorkas confidently said on Monday there was no crisis at the southern border following reports that the Biden administration was reopening a Trump-era overflow facility in an effort to handle the surge in child migrants.
The following day, Axios reported that a Tuesday afternoon briefing prepared for President Biden "outlines the need for 20,000 beds to shelter an expected crush of child migrants crossing the US-Mexico border."
Biden was reportedly told that the number of migrant kids is on pace to exceed the "all-time record by 45%," and the administration doesn't have enough beds.
Axios also reported on Thursday that a leaked HHS document describes how the Biden administration is being 'overwhelmed' by child migrants.
Driving the news: In the week ending March 1, the Border Patrol referred to HHS custody an average of 321 children per day, according to documents obtained by Axios. That's up from a weekly average of 203 in late January and early February — and just 47 per day during the first week of January.
Meanwhile, in order to expedite the transfer of children out of federal custody, the Biden administration plans to end a Trump-era requirement that sponsors be strictly vetted to avoid human trafficking and other crimes. Critics claim that vetting sponsors has a 'chilling effect' on their willingness to open their homes to migrant children.
HHS will pay for transporting the children when sponsors cannot, and has also recommended removing a request for Social Security numbers from a form required to be filled out by potential caretakers, according to Reuters.
Just don't call it a crisis.