The Biden administration projects the number of unaccompanied children crossing the border which has already overwhelmed detention facilities will continue to spiral over the next six months with numbers projected to smash records every month, according to a new report.
According to Axios who reported based on leaked documents cited that the Biden administration was projected just a month ago that the figure for May for the number of unaccompanied minors crossing the border would be 13,000. Now, the new estimate is projected to range between 22,000 to 25,000 for May.
The White House is anticipating that the crisis will continue to get way out of hand as they remain overwhelmed with the ones in custody, according to the Wall Street Journal who first reported the heightened projections for April and May. For April, the WSJ reported that between 18,600 and 22,000 unaccompanied children crossing the border while for the month of May, officials are estimating figures that could rise to roughly between 21,800 and 25,000. Border Patrol officials have said they are expecting to take more than 16,000 children into custody this month, a record for any month at the border since at least 2010, according to CBP data.
The Customs and Border Protection are also predicting a similar range for September — with numbers ranging between 22,000 to 26,000.
Last week President Biden in his first news conference repeatedly described the surge at the border as normal, describing the crisis as “nothing has changed” and the situation is something that happens “every single” year.
“It happens every single, solitary year: There is a significant increase in the number of people coming to the border in the winter months of January, February, March. That happens every year,” Biden said.
Over recent weeks, Biden officials have raced to find shelter space for the growing number of migrant children arriving at the southern border. After the unaccompanied children are taken into Border Patrol custody, which one is supposed to be held by law for up 72 hours, as many are held for over 100 hours. After they are supposed to be turned over to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) custody, which is in charge of the care of migrant children and finding a suitable home for those without families.
Gearing up for the anticipated surge, federal agencies are making preparations for anything but normal, as they are looking to see numbers that will be record-shattering. Documents show, according to Axios that the HHS reports that there is an immediate need for an extra 6,000 shelter beds. The additional need would allow HHS to house the migrant kids already in government custody while remaining at a targeted cap of 90% capacity.
The Biden administration last week approved a request from the HHS for additional emergency intake space for more than 5,000 kids and around 350 beds, by using two available military bases in Texas. The Defense Department granted Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, where they stated children will stay in a vacant dormitory, and Fort Bliss, as constructing on an empty plot of land has begun to build temporary housing.
If the projection estimates hold from now until September which is projected to be around 53,000, HHS will need an additional 34,000 beds to house the minors in order to “prevent kids waiting in unfit border patrol stations.”
As the Biden Administration continues to remain overwhelmed by unaccompanied minor flooding the detention center at an alarming rate, Department of Homeland Security officials are privately warning that the next phase of a migration surge that could be the largest in two decades will be migrant family group. DHS expects approximately 500,000 to 800,000 migrants to arrive as part of a family group during the 2021 fiscal year that ends in September, a quantity that would equal or exceed the record numbers who entered in 2019, according to data the Washington Post examined Sunday.
Roy Villareal, a former Border Patrol agent told the Washington Post as more families are allowed to stay, more parents are expected to arrive with their children, instead of splitting up. Based on this decision, over 40 percent of those taken into CBP custody now are children and families, and they consume over 60 to 70 percent of agents’ time, attention, and paperwork.
As of last Thursday, the Biden administration reported more than 18,000 immigrant children in its custody, with roughly 12,500 of them in government child shelters. About another 5,500 are being held in temporary Border Patrol holding facilities waiting to be transferred to shelters.
The influx of migrants crossing the border has stretched the Biden Administration to its limits that they are now calling for volunteers from across the federal government to “lend support to this humanitarian effort,” according to a memo sent to federal agencies by the Office of Personnel Management reported over the weekend. DHS earlier this month was the first to call for volunteers from within its department to help at the border.