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Tent Facilities To Serve As Short-Term Solution To Influx Of Unaccompanied Minors

U.S. Deptartment of Health and Human Services (Public domain)
The Tornillo "tent city" the Trump administration erected to house child migrants. A Washington Post reporter says new tent facilities under the Biden administration will be less of a "penal setting" while the federal government tries to match children with sponsors living in the United States.

From Texas Standard:

The number of unaccompanied minors crossing the southern U.S. border has risen dramatically over the last few months. The Biden administration is looking for ways to deal with that influx, and address long-term immigration issues that carried over from the Trump administration.

Nick Miroff covers immigration enforcement for The Washington Post. He told Texas Standard there’s been a fourfold increase over the last few months in the number of unaccompanied minors. About 2,000 cross each day, he says.

“Unaccompanied minors are not on the levels that we saw in 2019 during that record influx,” he said. “[But] things are certainly headed that way and will be there in the next couple of months unless these trends change.”

In the short term, the Biden administration is setting up “tent” facilities at the border to temporarily shelter the children. One facility is in Carrizo Springs, Texas; another is planned for Eagle Pass. They're managed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which tries to identify people living in the United States – usually family members – who can take custody of the children.

“It has to identify a sponsor who’s eligible to take custody of that of that minor. And that requires some vetting. They can’t just hand the child over to the first adult who shows up,” Miroff said.

The Biden administration is also working with Mexico to address immigration issues. Neither has found a short-term solution to the influx of unaccompanied minors. But Biden and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador are looking at “root” causes of immigration from Central America, including unemployment.

At the Conservative Political Action Conference over the weekend, former President Donald Trump criticized Biden's immigration policies. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas shot back, defending the policies in a press conference, saying the new administration has had to rebuild an immigration system “gutted” by Trump’s administration.

Part of that rebuilding process is reuniting some 500 families who are still separated under Trump’s family separation policy.

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Caroline Covington is Texas Standard's digital producer/reporter. She joined the team full time after finishing her master's in journalism at the UT J-School. She specializes in mental health reporting, and has a growing interest in data visualization. Before Texas Standard, Caroline was a freelancer for public radio, digital news outlets and podcasts, and produced a podcast pilot for Audible. Prior to journalism, she wrote and edited for marketing teams in the pharmaceutical and cosmetics industries. She has a bachelor's in biology from UC Santa Barbara and a master's in French Studies from NYU.
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