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Border crisis: Record number of migrant children being held in 'grim' cage-like 'cells' for longer than is legal
Sergio Flores/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Border crisis: Record number of migrant children being held in 'grim' cage-like 'cells' for longer than is legal

It's bad and getting worse

While the Biden administration continues to publicly deny that there is a "crisis" at the U.S. southern border, new information continues to surface every day demonstrating just how grave the situation is. Unprecedented numbers of illegal immigrants are surging into the country in anticipation of more lenient treatment under President Biden, but the administration is woefully unprepared to manage the rapid influx.

In a shocking report published Wednesday, the Washington Post didn't shy away from characterizing the situation as a "crisis," noting its "magnitude came into clearer focus Wednesday as the new administration was holding record numbers of unaccompanied migrant teens and children in detention cells for far longer than legally allowed and federal health officials fell further behind in their race to find space for them in shelters."

"More than 8,500 migrant teens and children who crossed the border without their parents are being housed in Department of Health and Human Services shelters as they wait to be placed with relatives or vetted sponsors. Nearly 3,500 more are stuck at Border Patrol stations waiting for beds in those shelters to open up, the highest figure ever," the Post noted in the report.

The news outlet went on to say that the migrant children are being held in "grim steel-and-concrete cells built for adults," known as Border Patrol surge facilities, for "an average of 107 hours" while they await transfer to an HHS-run shelter. That time period is well over the 72-hour legal limit.

When similar surge facilities were briefly opened during former President Trump's tenure, Democratic lawmakers and immigration activists alike lashed out at the administration for carelessly stuffing "kids in cages." On the campaign trail, Biden decried the practice as representative of his Republican opponent's tough stance on illegal immigration, and vowed to adopt a more welcoming approach. But the situation is far worse under Biden than it ever was under Trump — and it hasn't even been two months into the new president's term.

"Young people are waiting in cramped, austere holding cells with concrete floors and benches. Lights remain on 24 hours a day, agents say, and there are few places to play," the Post report continued. The outlet noted that the largest number of children held in surge facilities under Trump was about 2,600 in June 2019.

Internally aware that the situation is bad and only getting worse — the Department of Homeland Security projects at least 117,000 unaccompanied migrant children will illegally enter the country this year — the Biden administration has been scrambling to come up with solutions.

Last month, the administration authorized officials to purchase plane tickets to fly migrant children to relatives within the U.S. But according to the Post, even that radical action has not been enough to keep up with the influx.

"Over the first week of March, HHS received more than 450 migrant teens and children per day on average, roughly three times as many as the agency was able to release to family members and sponsors," the report stated.

Now the administration is searching for new shelter facilities to house the children under the expectation that the current facilities will reach maximum capacity by the end of the month.

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