More kids in cages, up to seven times more in fact, more families arriving and being separated every day as shelters reach full capacity and the administration plans rapid processing centers to deal with the overflow. These are crises of Biden’s own creation, call it suicide at the border.
The numbers are staggering: 321 additional children per day in the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), almost 10,000 children per month. By comparison, there were only 47 children per day before Biden took office, an increase of almost seven times. The shelter system is now at 94% capacity and is expected to reach full capacity by the end of the month.
Families are still being separated at the border as well. According to USA Today, “The migrant children often arrive with a grandparent, older sibling or other relative but are separated until federal officials can confirm the accompanying adult is their relative, as required under U.S. law.” They are placed “in federal shelters until a sponsor or adult is vetted, a process that can take several weeks or even months.” The associate director of legal services at the National Immigration Justice Center says, “It really does look and feel in many ways like a parent-child separation. The trauma of the separation is very similar.”
In addition to taking children in and separating them from their parents, HHS is letting them out at a rate of 174 per day, up from 90 earlier in the year. Even at that pace, they can’t release the children fast enough to keep pace with applicable laws and treaties. The number of minors in custody for more than three days is rising each day. Overall, HHS is expecting a record number of migrants this year and believes they will need 20,000 beds to accommodate them.
Ironically, this has prompted Biden and his administration to reopen detention centers Trump had previously closed, meaning the administration is actively preparing for more kids in cages. The new detention centers aren’t the only thing they are working on, either. Russell Hott, a senior official with Immigration and Custom Enforcement, wrote an internal email mentioning a plan to create rapid “processing hubs” to more quickly bring migrants into the country regardless of their immigration status. According to The Washington Post, the administration is expecting “the highest numbers observed in over 20 years.”
Hott warned in the email that a pace of 500 family members per day might even be too much for the new rapid processing centers, as he put it they “may not be sufficient to keep pace with apprehensions.” Former acting director of ICE, Tom Homan, claims he saw a leaked email on February 12, sent by Tim Perry, ICE’s current chief of staff, to leadership at the agency. The email outlined Department of Homeland Security Secretary, Alejandro Mayorka’s “vision” in 19 bullet points.
Homan summarized them: ICE is actively planning for a massive “surge,” the plan is to do whatever it takes to transport illegal border crossers into the interior of the United States and release them without any means of verifying their status or ensuring they show up in court. They plan to sign new contracts with Target to increase detention capacity, leveraging former housing for oil field workers, regardless of whether or not these facilities meet ICE standards. Further, the facilities should not have fencing, to avoid the appearance of an enforcement operation.
They also plan to use a process called, ATD, Alternatives to Detention, to mass release individuals, even though ICE’s own data show a third of people released on ATD disappear entirely, never to be seen by ICE again even though they are in the country illegally. Overall, only 3% of people released by ATD are ever departed even if they are undocumented and should not legally be in America. It takes 5-7 years to deport someone on ATD.
This is despite the fact that between 8 and 9 out 10 Central Americans are ultimately denied asylum, either because they do not qualify or never return for their court date. Let that number sink in for a moment: Up to 90% of the migrants the administration is rapidly releasing into the United States will not qualify to remain here under existing law, yet we are bringing them in anyway with no way to track them or will to deport them later. According to DHS, less than 2% of all family units ordered deported since 2012 have actually left the country.
Of course, COVID-19 remains a concern in the middle of a pandemic and the Biden administration is also failing miserably on that front. The CDC says that facilities should “plan for and expect to have COVID-19 cases,” but the facilities themselves are not being managed with social distancing guidelines in mind. The detention centers are now operating at 100% capacity, “based on CDC guidance, [HHS’ Office of Refugee Resettlement] has notified facilities they may temporarily reactivate capacity within their full licensed capability up to safe occupancy levels.”
Read that again: Outside of a handful of states, no business is allowed to operate at full capacity, nor does the CDC advise anyone to do so. Biden himself recently called it “Neanderthal thinking,” and yet detention centers are running full blast, like thousands of people like a pre pandemic Bruce Springsteen concert.
They rationalize this exception offered to no small business owner by saying “Additional shelter capacity will minimize the likelihood that children remain in Border Patrol stations longer than necessary, where they are also exposed to COVID-19 transmission risks as well as child welfare concerns associated with such settings. Over-capacity Border Stations pose a greater infection risk to children than ORR program sites that are operating at full licensed capacity but use other COVID-19 mitigation measures.”
They’re also releasing coronavirus positive patients into the United States with no quarantine. NBC News reported on the story of Miriam Izaguirre, a 35-year old asylum seeker from Honduras. She crossed the Rio Grande with her son and immediately turned herself in. She was released after a few hours and given a rapid test, only to have the results come back positive. Instead of quarantine, she was waiting for a bus to Houston. NBC News continued, “Other migrant families who also said they had tested positive were waiting to go to other destinations: North Carolina, Maryland and New Jersey.” “The city of Brownsville administers these rapid tests at the bus station, after migrant families are released by the Border Patrol. A spokesperson for Brownsville confirmed that, since they began doing these tests Jan. 25, 108 migrants have tested positive for Covid-19, which is 6.3 percent of those who took the test.”
Unfortunately, the city of Brownsville can administer the test, but do nothing else, even when the person is here illegally. “A spokesperson for the city said in an email that Brownsville does not have the authority to retain these migrants who plan to travel to dozens of cities throughout the country.”
Yes, COVID-19 is now spreading from the southern border with the tacit approval of Biden himself. The governor of Texas, Republican Greg Abbott, was not pleased, turning Biden’s own Neanderthal thinking phrase against him. “In Texas, the Biden administration was releasing illegal immigrants into our communities who had COVID,” Abbott said. “The Biden administration was spreading COVID in south Texas yesterday because of their lack of constraint of testing and quarantining, people come across the border illegally. The Biden administration was exposing Texas to COVID. That is a Neanderthal type approach dealing with the COVID situation.”
More changes are coming as well. On Friday, the Biden administration filed papers in Federal court indicating they would temporarily close long-term detention facilities. According to CBS News, “In documents filed in the U.S. district court in Los Angeles, ICE said it was planning to convert the family detention center in Berks County into an adult-only facility. ICE also announced the Texas detention centers in Dilley and Karnes City would transition into short-term processing facilities designed to hold migrant families for less than three days.”
No mention is made of what they plan to do with these families: If almost 9 in 10 will not receive asylum, why are we fast tracking them into the country when we know the great majority will not be able to legally stay?
Perhaps even worse, experts expect the situation to get worse, not better, as we head into spring and summer, the seasons with the most migrant activity. Ultimately, Biden’s attempt to impose an open borders light policy is rapidly colliding with reality. These are decisions with the predictable outcoming of drastically increasing the number of migrants both arriving at the border and in US custody, complete with more kids in cages.
The result will be renewed chaos on the border and more undocumented workers in the country, all with no real plan to deal with either. In addition, little attention is ever paid to what becomes of these migrants once they get in the country. Where do the live? How do they work? Can they afford to feed their families? Are the living in poverty in the United States even after entry?
It didn’t have to be this way. Former President Trump was able to stem the flow of migrants and close the detention centers as a result of his Remain in Mexico policy, where migrants seeking entry were kept on the other side of the border until their case could be adjudicated. The reasoning was pretty simple: Since the great majority do not qualify for asylum, it’s better to only allow those that do entry.
Biden, however, is now literally moving people in Biden tee-shirts from the camps in Mexico to detention centers in the United States.
Amazingly, Bloomberg Business describes this as something that would “count as an early success for Biden, who aims to undo his predecessor’s most draconian anti-immigrant policies” even as they note “the number of migrants crossing the southern border is surging. Border agents have detained 70,000 people illegally crossing per month since October, a sharp increase from a year ago.”
The Remain in Mexico policy was unsatisfactory in liberal circles because the conditions in Mexico were not up to US standards. Bloomberg Business describes migrants as they “waited and worried in a squalid limbo, spending their days inside a home made from ragged tarps lashed to the camp’s chain-link fence, all with a view of U.S. soil, just 70 feet away.”
The only problem with that: The conditions just about everywhere in the world are not up to our standards. That’s why they are coming to the United States. If their home countries were a tropical paradise, they would remain there, but instead they come here looking for a better life. It’s an impulse I certainly understand even if I accept the hard reality that we cannot take everyone in.
The sad truth is: If not up to our standards is the standard, why not fly people in directly from all over the world? Why do these particular migrants deserve entry when there are surely worse-off people on the planet Earth? There are huge swaths of Africa and Asia where people live in abject poverty. If they were to arrive, en masse, on boats, would we let them all in as well?
According to the World Bank, 689 million people lived in extreme poverty in 2017, a number that is likely to have risen during the pandemic. Are they all next? If not, why?
While we wait on open borders and open borders light advocates to answer that question, we have to live with the sad irony of a more humane, less draconian policy resulting in more kids in cages, more people in custody, and more coronavirus spreading in the United States, all crises of Biden’s own creation. It didn’t have to be this way.