Reps. worry as Border Patrol detainment times rise beyond permitted levels
By Morgan Miles, Staff Writer
The Biden administration faces a rapid surge of migrants seeking entry into the United States as southern Border Patrol facilities are struggling to humanely accommodate the influx.
Politicians are focusing on minors arriving at the border without guardians. This issue has been especially important because of statutory travel restrictions implemented by the Centers for Disease Control due to COVID-19.
John Sanders, a former U.S Customs and Border Protection (CBP) leader, recalled that five children died after detainment during the last migrant surge in 2019. In a statement, Sanders questioned whether or not history is going to repeat itself.
Last Sunday, the Department of Homeland Security documented more than 4,200 unaccompanied migrant children in U.S custody. On average, children without guardians are held in custody at detention facilities for 117 hours — surpassing the 1997 Flores Settlement Agreement standard of a maximum of 72 hour holds with CBP and 20 days with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
After children leave Border Patrol detention facilities, they are transferred to shelters provided by the Department of Health and Human Services. Children are meant to be placed with U.S. sponsors within 20 days, although this process has been delayed in the past month.
In response, the Biden administration is moving to dismantle immigration measures left by the Trump administration. This includes the “zero-tolerance” policies that led to the separation of children from their families at the border. So far, approximately 105 migrant children separated by these policies have been reunited with their families.
The Biden administration announced a decision to not expel children arriving to the U.S. even without a guardian. Migrant surges also occurred during the presidencies of Donald Trump and Barack Obama. However, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas believes the number of migrants at the southwest border today will likely be the largest population encountered in the last 20 years.
Many Republicans are blaming the Biden administration for the migrant surge. Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., criticized Biden’s slow approach to what he calls a crisis — wording that the Biden administration is not keen on using. Visiting detention facilities along the border, McCarthy emphasized: “Biden’s policies created a border crisis.”
Meanwhile, Democrats shift the blame to the Trump administration’s immigration policy, though there is a mixture of Democrats for and against the Biden administration’s agenda.
“It’s clear to me that the Biden administration will address the issue at the border with compassion, as opposed to the cruelty that was central to the prior administration’s policy,” Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., commented.
On campus, first-year psychology major Alaina Francel responded to the migrant surge response.
“The large influx of children being detained at sub-standard detention centers is terrifying, especially since they are by themselves and being held for extended periods,” Francel said.
Francel believes the Biden administration inherited disorganization from the Trump administration, but feels more needs to be done. Concerned, she expressed, “They can’t continue holding children for more than 10 days in overcrowded facilities.”
Many immigrants have responded positively to the Biden administration’s actions, though the future remains questionable. Democrats see potential to improve the processes and journeys migrants endure, but Republicans foresee negative outcomes for foreign and domestic policy.