The U.S. government is detaining a record 12,800 migrant children, and the federal shelter system is close to capacity, The New York Times reports.
The number of detained migrant children is up from 2,400 kids in custody in May 2017. While the Trump administration did separate thousands of children from their parents at the southern border in an attempt to discourage others from entering the country, most of the minors now in custody crossed the border without a parent. There are 100 shelters across the United States, and they are operating at 90 percent capacity, up from 30 percent last year, the Times reports. The Trump administration announced on Tuesday it will triple the size of a temporary tent city in Tornillo, Texas, in order to house up to 3,800 children. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) said this kind of facility is three times more expensive to operate than a fixed shelter, costing $750 per child, per day.
Data collected by the Department of Health and Human Services was shared with members of Congress, who passed it along to the Times, and those figures show that fewer kids are being released to live with relatives, family friends, and other sponsors. That's likely because sponsors now have to be fingerprinted, and most are undocumented and would risk being deported. Catherine Garcia
Over the past 24 hours, at least 240 migrants have drowned off the coast of Libya, despite an attempt by five ships to rescue them, the International Organization for Migration said Thursday.
The organization's chief spokesman, Leonard Doyle, said several rubber dinghies were packed with migrants, and hundreds "succumbed to the waves of Libya in very bad weather." On one dinghy, survivors said they departed Libya at 3 a.m. Wednesday, and started to sink just a few hours later. Of the 26 survivors, 20 were women and six were children from West Africa; rescuers recovered 12 bodies from that wreck.
More and more smugglers are putting migrants on "completely unsafe" dinghies because the fishing boats they had been using have been seized by European navies, Doyle said. IOM's Italy spokesman, Flavio di Giacomo, said rescued migrants report that smugglers are telling them that because the Libyan coast guard is being trained by European partners, if the migrants are rescued, soon they will be brought back to Libya rather than Italy; that could be why they are making the risky journey, despite poor weather. In October, 27,388 migrants arrived in Italy, more than the previous two Octobers combined, di Giacomo said. So far this year, 4,220 migrants have died in the Mediterranean. Catherine Garcia
An estimated 700 Libyan migrants died last week as their boats capsized in the Mediterranean during an attempted crossing to Italy, adding to a swelling death toll of more than 8,000 migrants to Europe since 2014. In September 2015, those deaths were encapsulated in a photo of 3-year-old Aylan Kurdi, a Syrian boy whose drowned body washed up on the coast of Greece.
Another such photo came out of a rescue effort off the coast of Libya on Sunday organized by a German humanitarian organization called Sea-Watch. It shows a German rescue volunteer named Martin cradling a drowned baby who appears to be sleeping.
Seeing the child's body floating in the water, "I took hold of the forearm of the baby and pulled the light body protectively into my arms at once, as if it were still alive," Martin said. "I began to sing to comfort myself and to give some kind of expression to this incomprehensible, heart-rending moment. Just six hours ago this child was alive."
Around 700 migrants from Libya may be dead after the three small boats they were using to cross the Mediterranean capsized on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, the United Nations' refugee agency reported Sunday.
The largest boat was carrying some 670 migrants and did not have an engine. So far, only about 100 of its passengers have been rescued, while 15 bodies have been found.
All three boats were attempting to cross from North Africa to the southern shores of Italy. Libya has remained in chaos since the NATO-assisted overthrow of dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 2011, a power vacuum which permitted the Islamic State terrorist organization to set up shop in the seaside city of Sirte. Bonnie Kristian
Hungary announced Friday that at midnight it will close its border with Croatia, where it has built a 216-mile razor fence, to control the influx of migrants seeking to reach Western Europe. The decision follows a meeting between Hungary and European Union leaders that failed to produce an agreement on the migrant crisis.
Experts are now concerned that migrants will be stranded in Croatia. Although border checkpoints between Croatia and Hungary will remain open, Hungary's foreign minister says controls will be tightened.
In the last year, more than 383,000 migrants have passed through Hungary to reach Western Europe. Becca Stanek
Thousands of migrants, many fleeing conflict in Syria, streamed into Austria and Germany on Saturday and Sunday. The dangerous journey for refugees is made more difficult by European countries either refusing to take people in or severely limiting the number of people they'll accept. For days, Hungary blocked migrants from travelling through by train or bus, which forced them to walk along the train tracks.
On Sunday, Pope Francis called on the Catholic community in Europe to do their part by helping refugees flee "death from war and hunger," The Associated Press reports. He said the Vatican's two parishes are taking in two families.
The pope, addressing tens of thousands of people in St. Peter's Square, said it's not enough to say to refugees, "Have courage, hang in there." Julie Kliegman
In July, a record 107,500 migrants entered the European Union, with the highest concentration making their way to the Greek islands of Kos, Lesbos, Chios, and Samos.
The border agency Frontex said that since January, close to 340,000 migrants have arrived in Europe, a huge leap from the 280,000 migrants that came in 2014. A majority are from the Middle East, Time reports, leaving Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan for Turkey, then crossing the Aegean Sea into Greece.
Kirk Day, field director of the International Rescue Committee's operation in Lesbos, said in a statement the "situation is already volatile, and we have started seeing increased tensions with the local authorities and between different refugee groups." Day said he wants locals to keep in mind why the migrants are risking their lives to come to Europe: "European donors and international institutions need to stop focusing on where these refugees are, and instead remember where they are from — and what they are fleeing." Catherine Garcia
On Thursday, European Union leaders are expected to officially agree to take in 40,000 asylum-seekers from the growing migrant crisis in the Mediterranean, according to a draft final summit statement. However, while the EU has agreed to take in people coming to the continent from Libya, the Balkans, and the Middle East, they have yet to decide how exactly they will spread the 40,000 people among EU member countries. Initially, EU leaders had planned to create a system of quotas that would ensure each of the 28 countries in the EU took on an equitable share of the displaced migrant group. This proposal was shot down by leaders at a recent Brussels summit, however, and EU countries can now participate on a voluntary basis.
Mostly, EU leaders are focusing on discouraging illegal immigration and only guaranteeing the stay of legitimate asylum seekers. At this point in time both Italy and Greece are inundated with asylum-seekers, with 24,000 in Italy and another 16,000 in Greece. While efforts to alleviate the burden somewhat from these two countries will help, it won't make much of a dent in the EU's overall numbers. The Guardian reports that last year more than 600,000 people sought asylum in the EU, and this year that number is expected to be even higher. Becca Stanek