On Monday, Homeland Security Director Alejandro Mayorkas confidently said there was no crisis at the southern border following reports that the Biden administration was reopening a Trump-era overflow facility to handle a flood of migrant children.
"The men and women of the Department of Homeland Security are working around the clock seven days a week to ensure that we do not have a crisis at the border—that we manage the challenge, as acute as the challenge is," Mayorkas said during a press briefing, adding "we are getting it done."
Human traffickers may beg to differ...
Today, Axios reports 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 will be 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.
More via Axios:
- Facing the growing numbers, the Department of Health and Human Services — which oversees the network of child migrant shelters — is planning to change its coronavirus protocols to make room for an additional 2,000 kids and teens, according a source with direct knowledge of the presentation and a second congressional source.
- Even with new shelters and loosened COVID-19 restrictions, the administration projects it will fall short of its needs by a couple thousand.
- A DHS spokesperson did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment. An HHS spokesperson referred the request to the White House, which declined comment.
Between the lines: DHS currently projects there will be 117,000 unaccompanied child migrants crossing the border this year, according to information on the slides.
- A large number of them are teenagers. Just last month, some 6,000 migrants aged 16 and 17 were caught, according to the slides.
- HHS is expected to reach its shelter capacity later this month, according to the two sources.
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.