The Biden administration is reactivating an emergency migrant child facility in Carrizo Springs, Texas, due to an influx of unaccompanied minors crossing the southern border and capacity limits at permanent shelters due to COVID-19.
During the Trump administration, the facility was open for one month in the summer of 2019. Today, it will hold up to 700 migrant teens. Mark Weber, a spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services, told The Washington Post the temporary operation is based on the federal emergency management system and will keep migrant kids out of Border Patrol facilities, where holding cells are designed for adults.
The U.S. has 13,200 beds for migrant kids, but only half can be used because of social distancing measures. In January, more than 5,700 unaccompanied minors were apprehended crossing the southern border, and as of Sunday, there are 7,000 migrant kids in U.S. custody. The Carrizo Springs facility will "meet or exceed" Texas licensing standards, Weber said, and is run by the nonprofit BCFS Health and Human Services.
"If we could find another way, that'd be great," Weber told the Post. "On the flip side, these kids just come in and they're turned loose on the street, they end up being homeless kids."
President Biden has used executive orders to rescind some of Trump's hardline immigration policies, and some immigration lawyers, advocates, and lawmakers are wondering why he would open a migrant child facility linked to the Trump administration. "It's unnecessary, it's costly, and it goes absolutely against everything Biden promised he was going to do," attorney Linda Brandmiller told the Post. "It's a step backward, is what it is. It's a huge step backward." Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) agreed, tweeting, "This is not okay, never has been okay, never will be okay — no matter the administration or party."