On Tuesday, the Biden administration allowed journalists to enter the largest temporary detention center for migrants on the border with Mexico for the first time. The journalists saw the room filled with people: in the complex, according to the rules, intended for the detention of 250 people, there are now more than 4 thousand migrants, mostly minors and their relatives.
With thousands of children and adults arriving en masse on the Mexican-US border in recent weeks trying to illegally enter the United States, the Biden administration has come under pressure from the public to demand more transparency in these processes. The Bureau of Customs and Border Protection has allowed two Associated Press journalists and a CBS film crew to visit a migrant detention center in Donna, south Texas, in the Rio Grande Valley. The journalists undertook to share the footage with their colleagues in the press pool.
On Tuesday, representatives of the press arrived at the center in Donna, which at the time housed over 4,100 people, including 3,400 unaccompanied children and families with children. After staying in the center, most of the underage migrants enter institutions run by the Ministry of Health and Human Services, then these children are placed in the care of relatives or sponsors.
Hundreds of children are now housed in eight “compartments”, each measuring about 300 square meters. m, separated by plastic partitions. In many compartments, more than 500 children are housed, who are forced to squeeze together and sleep on mats, covered with rescue foil thermal blankets.
Oscar Escamilla, I. about. the chief of the border patrol in the Rio Grande Valley, said that 250 to 300 children enter the center every day, but much fewer leave.
Reporters witnessed the sanitization of children, many of whom suffered from lice and scabies after a long hike to the American border. Residents of the center are not tested for COVID-19 unless they have symptoms.
The children are then taken to a large reception room. Persons over 14 years of age are fingerprinted and photographed. Then they are given notice to appear in immigration court and find out if they have friends or relatives in the United States. In this case, the border guards allow them to contact these people. Each of the children is also given bracelets with a barcode, which can be used to determine the time of the last shower and the results of the physical examination.
In the wake of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the Biden administration continues to expel adult migrants from the US as they try to cross the US border. The US government is also trying to expel most families with children from the country, but changes in Mexican law are forcing border guards to release many of these migrants detained in the United States.
Several hundred children and adolescents cross the Mexican border with the U.S. every day, most of them fleeing violence, poverty or the aftermath of natural disasters in Central America. In some cases, parents who have previously been denied entry into the United States send their children across the border alone, hoping that they will eventually be accommodated with American relatives.
Border Patrol detain many more children every day than the Department of Health and Human Services, which is responsible for hosting minors with sponsors, can handle. According to the law, the maximum period of detention for border guards is three days, but in most cases this requirement is violated.
At the time of the journalists’ visit, over two thousand children were in the center for more than 72 hours, 39 for more than two weeks. The Ministry of Health is now placing children in convention centers in Dallas and San Diego, and is also opening large temporary complexes in San Antonio, El Paso and other cities.
Republicans sharply criticize Biden for his actions, defending the measures taken against migrants by the Trump administration, which divided thousands of families in accordance with a policy of zero tolerance.