A record number of migrant children are being kept in Border Patrol 'cages' as a surge in migrants continues to overwhelm the Biden administration's ability to keep up.
As of Monday, as over 3,200 unaccompanied minors were reported in Border Patrol facilities, with nearly half being held beyond the legal three-day limit, according to CBS News, which added that the Office of Refugee Resettlement only has around 500 beds available near the southern border to handle the influx of children entering US custody.
According to government documents obtained by CBS News, nearly 1,400 unaccompanied minors had been held in Customs and Border Protection (CBP) holding facilities for more than three days as of Monday, despite the agency's legal obligation to transfer these children to shelters operated by the U.S. refugee agency within 72 hours of taking them into custody.
Nearly 170 unaccompanied children stuck in Border Patrol custody are under the age of 13, according to the CBP documents.
Less than three weeks ago, CBP held just nine unaccompanied children past the three-day limit according to one document.
According to one former Department of Homeland Security (DHS) official, the number of children in Border Patrol custody is the highest in the history of the agency.
Last week President Biden was briefed on the need for 20,000 beds to handle the influx of child migrants along the US-Mexico border, while his administration has reportedly been eyeing Fort Lee Army Base in Virginia to help with the surge. A leaked document revealed how the administration is being "overwhelmed" by child migrants, according to Axios.
The Border Patrol stations housing the 3,200 migrant children are different from a migrant overflow facility recently operated by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in Carrizo Springs, Texas.
Border Patrol stations, which migrants have dubbed "dog kennels" and "ice boxes," have cinder-block cells meant to temporarily hold adult migrants. CBP is also holding unaccompanied children in a large "soft-sided" facility in south Texas that has more space and accommodations than Border Patrol stations; though it is designed for short-term custody as well. -CBS News
At present, the refugee office is housing over 8,100 migrant children while it works to expand capacity.
According to documents obtained by CBS News, there is an escalating 'humanitarian, logistical and political' crisis facing President Biden at the US-Mexico border - which Republicans blame on Biden's policies and immigration promises.
Meanwhile, Biden has been using a Trump-era policy of rapidly expelling immigrants using a public health law, however they have shielded unaccompanied minors from the expulsions - resulting in the transfer of more than 7,000 children to US refugee agency shelters in February - a record high.
The Office of Refugee Resettlement tells CBS News that they are working "aggressively" to release migrant children into the custody of sponsors - typically family members residing in the United States.
On Friday, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) cited "extraordinary circumstances" and allowed shelters to return to pre-pandemic bed levels as long as they implement enhanced COVID-19 mitigation protocols.