The Department of Homeland Security Secretary, Alejandro Mayorkas, said that the United States is on track to experience the highest number of illegal border crossings in 20 years.
To understand the situation, it’s crucial to identify who is arriving at the southwest border. The majority of those apprehended at the border are single adults, but they’re currently being expelled under the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s authority to manage the public health crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic. Mayorkas made a statement explaining that “We are expelling most single adults and families. We are not expelling unaccompanied children.” Border Patrol Agents are encountering many unaccompanied children at the border every day. ABC News expressed that the border issue is significant and that DHS is struggling with its own policy allowing for migrant children to remain in United States custody pending an immigration proceeding. “The number of children crossing by themselves rose 60% from January to more than 9,400 in February, the most recent statistics available,” the outlet noted.
Border Patrol Agents are securing our border, executing the CDC’s public health authority to safeguard the American public and the migrants themselves, and protecting the children. However, there is still work to be done. Mayorkas continued, “We have experienced migration surges before – in 2019, 2014, and before then as well. Since April 2020, the number of encounters at the southwest border has been steadily increasing.” Border Patrol Agents are working around the clock to process the flow at the border. However, poverty, high levels of violence, and corruption in Mexico and the Northern Triangle countries have propelled migration to the southwest border for years.
The adverse conditions have continued to deteriorate. Two damaging hurricanes that hit Honduras and swept through the region made the living conditions there even worse, causing more children and families to flee. The COVID-19 pandemic has also made the situation even more complicated due to the restrictions and protocols that need to be followed. For example, the physical distancing protocol imposes space and other limitations on the facilities and operations. There were no plans to protect our front-line personnel against the COVID-19 pandemic.
The DHS is creating joint processing centers, so children can be placed in HHS care immediately after Border Patrol encounters them. Additionally, they’re identifying and equipping additional facilities for HHS to shelter unaccompanied children until they are placed with family or sponsors. These are short-term solutions to address the surge of unaccompanied children. Nonetheless, the growing situation at the southwest border is a difficult one. In his statement, Mayorkas explained that the DHS is doing their best to keep our borders secure, enforce our laws, and stay true to our values and principles.
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ARTICLE: GABRIELLA ANTOS
POLITICS EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: WFMZ