While publicly denying that a crisis is underway at the U.S.-Mexico border, the Biden administration appears to be scrambling to contain and manage a massive surge of illegal immigrant children flooding into the country, according to internal documents.
What are the details?
Based on revelations outlined in a White House domestic policy presentation, obtained by Axios, the situation at the southern border is much more dire than the administration is letting on.
The presentation, which consists of nearly 40 slides full of charts and details, reportedly spells out the dimensions of the crisis in stark terms. The Department of Homeland Security projects there will be 117,000 unaccompanied child migrants crossing the southern border this year, an unprecedentedly high number — and there aren't anywhere near enough beds.
During last month alone, 6,000 migrants ages 16 and 17 were caught crossing the border — and that pace is expected to continue, if not increase. Scrambling to keep up with the rapid influx, the administration will apparently need to acquire 20,000 additional beds, according to the presentation.
Also, the Department of Health and Human Services, the agency tasked with handling migrant children, is expected to reach shelter capacity later this month. Axios reported that the agency "is planning to change its coronavirus protocols to make room for an additional 2,000 kids and teens," but that even with the changes, the needs will not be met.
President Biden is scheduled to be briefed on the situation Tuesday afternoon.
Yet while the Biden administration internally acknowledges the gravity of the matter, officials are not being so forthright with the public.
On Monday, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas rejected the notion that the situation was a crisis during a White House press briefing, instead referring to it as "a challenge at the border that we are managing."
Then on Tuesday, when confronted with details outlined in the presentation, White House press secretary Jen Psaki doubled down on Mayorkas' claim.
This comes after an internal email sent last month by Immigration and Customs Enforcement chief of staff Timothy Perry to agency leadership appeared to show immigration authorities in panic mode about the surge of migrants.
"We need to prepare for border surges now," Perry wrote. "We need to begin making changes immediately. We should privilege action over cost considerations; do what is needed, and the department will work on funding afterward."