According to a survey, Customs and Border Protection officials are expecting up to 13,000 unaccompanied children to enter the United States in May.
“We’re seeing the highest February numbers in the history of the [Unaccompanied Alien Child] program,” an official from the Department of Health and Human Services told Axios.
The record increase in migrant children would require a continued expansion of the country’s migrant-child shelter network, where capacity has already been reduced because of social-distancing protocols for coronavirus, the report said.
HHS is collaborating with the Pentagon on securing space on military bases, where during 2014 and 2019 migrant overflows were housed in tent-like structures, the study said.
One goal shared by Jonathan White, a top HHS career official, was to prevent migrant children from waiting in unfit CBP holding cells for their immigration claims.
During a phone meeting on Thursday involving senior-level officials from HHS, Homeland Security, and the State Department, CBP alerted top administration officials about the peak May figures, according to Axios.
Officials also addressed investing in Central American countries during the meeting in ways that could help curb the circumstances that cause migrants to flee, Axios said.
There was no talk of reinstating the use of emergency health directives by the Trump administration to deport migrant minors quickly.
The Biden administration came under fire this week for reopening some of the same border facilities that many Democrats, including President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, have criticized President Donald Trump for using.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has spoken about the recent reopening of a Carrizo Springs, Texas, emergency facility and a notorious Homestead, Fla., child holding facility.
As their immigration cases are processed, the Texas facility will house up to 700 children aged 13 to 17.
The White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said of the services, “Our goal is for them to be passed to families or sponsors.”
“It is our attempt to ensure that kids are not in near proximity and that we are following by the health and safety guidelines that the government has set out,” she says.