As unaccompanied minors and asylum-seeking families continue to flock to the southern U.S. border with Mexico, many children at a Texan shelter are sleeping on the floor due to lack of space.
Neha Desai, lawyer representing young illegal immigrants, speak with CBS News on the crisis last week. Desai spoke with children detained at a US Customs and Border Protection detention center in Donna, Texas.
As of March 2, she said Donna’s facility held more than 1,800 people, more than seven times its capacity of 250 in the coronavirus era.
âSome of the boys said the conditions were so overcrowded that they had to take turns sleeping on the floor,â Desai reported. “They all said they wanted to shower more and that they couldn’t.”
In addition, Desai pointed out that the children lamented to him that they “never saw the sun.”
“One of them said he could only see the sun when he was showering because you can see the sun through the window,” the lawyer told the media outlet.
Overcrowded conditions at border detention centers come as the US-Mexico border experiences an increase in illegal border crossings.
Amid fears of overcrowding in shelters, a memo obtained by The Associated Press on Monday said the Federal Emergency Management Agency will temporarily house thousands of young migrant teens at a Dallas convention center.
According to US Customs and Border Protection, the number of encounters at the southwest border between law enforcement and illegal immigrants increased from 78,442 in January to 100,441 in February.
The number of meetings in February 2021 is almost three times higher than in February 2020 (36,687).
The border influx comes less than two months after President Joe Biden took office.
Biden worked to overturn most of former President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, which were aimed at stemming the flow of illegal immigrants entering the United States.
“In early 2019, the Trump administration invoked ‘migrant protection protocols’, forcing asylum seekers to wait in Mexico,” freelance journalist Sharyl Attkisson said. Explain in a recent episode of his weekly “Full Measure” news magazine series.
As the coronavirus pandemic began to engulf the United States in March 2020, she said Trump enacted Title 42, “an emergency health decree” that “allowed border officials to immediately turn back illegal immigrants.”
She added that after the implementation of the Migrant Protection Protocols and Title 42, â90% of illegal immigrants captured at the southwest border [in May 2020] were sent off, and the number of interceptions fell from around one million in 2019 to about half in 2020. â
Since taking office, the Biden administration has sought to reverse these policies, which has led to the release of illegal border workers “within American border communities,” Attkisson said.
While Biden has yet to visit the southern border since the latest increase in border crossings began, Parliamentary Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., LED a delegation of Congressional Republicans will visit the area on Monday.
On March 5, McCarthy wrote a letter to Biden expressing concern over how his administration is handling the crisis.
Citing a prediction that “117,000 unaccompanied foreign children (UAC) will cross the border this year,” McCarthy warned that “such a drastic increase in arrests will, and no doubt already has, strained the capacity of the US border patrol and health and human service officials responsible for caring for unaccompanied foreign children.
The parliamentary minority leader quoted Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, who recently said: âWe don’t say don’t come, we say don’t come now.
âTo be clear, there is never a ‘right time’ to enter the country illegally and violate the laws of the United States,â McCarthy said. âReporting otherwise is reckless and will make the situation worse. “
“We must recognize the border crisis, develop a plan and, unequivocally, strongly discourage the people of Mexico and Central America from making the dangerous journey to our southern border,” McCarthy wrote.
While the increase in the number of border crossings comes against the backdrop of a new administration, it also comes as the United States and the world continue to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic.
As the Donna facility and others like it continue to detain migrants in numbers far exceeding their capabilities, border residents are testing positive for the coronavirus at a higher rate than the American public as a whole.
Migrant families tested in Brownsville, Texas have a positivity rate of 12%, compared to a positivity rate of 3.5% among the general American public, according to the Washington Times.
A pastor who runs a shelter for migrant families in Harlingen, Texas, claimed that 25% of a group of migrants who arrived at the shelter have tested positive for the coronavirus. The other group has not been tested.
In addition to facing expected criticism from Congressional Republicans, local officials and even some Democrats have also criticized the Biden administration’s immigration policies.
Representative Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, who represents a border district in Congress, spoke about three messages those seeking to enter the United States are hearing in an interview with CNN last Thursday.
Identifying the White House message as “don’t come now, come later,” Cuellar claimed that two other messages heard by border candidates are much more appealing and encourage them to make the dangerous journey to the US border. Mexican. .
A message comes from their family and friends, who say, âHey, Pedro, ya pasamos. We can come. Come on right away.
The other message comes from criminal organizations, which say, âHey, I can get you through. Pay me some money.
Talk to The Chronicle of Houston, Cuellar warned that “we are weeks or even days away from a crisis on the southern border,” adding that “inaction is just not an option.”
Earlier this month, Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced plans to deploy the State National Guard to the US-Mexico border to deal with the crisis. Abbott criticized the president for advancing “policies that refuse to secure the border and invite illegal immigration.”
âTexas supports legal immigration but will not be complicit in open border policies that cause, rather than prevent, a humanitarian crisis in our state and endanger the lives of Texans. We will increase the resources and the forces of order necessary to deal with this crisis, âhe continued.
Del Rio, Mayor of Texas, Bruno Lozano urged the Biden administration to end policies that would lead to the “release of immigrants awaiting court dates in Del Rio and surrounding areas” in a video last month.