Number of unaccompanied migrant kids detained at border triples — in two weeks

ALLAHPUNDIT Mar 08, 2021 8:01 PM ET

Gonna get worse before it gets better. A lot worse, if the projections about a spring surge are accurate.

I continue to be surprised that this story has been a relatively minor subject in major conservative media like Fox lately relative to, say, parts of Dr. Seuss’s back catalog no longer being published. It’s one of the biggest crises Biden is apt to face in the next six months, destined to become even more dire as the weather improves, and the post-Trump GOP is well positioned to attack on it. Republicans know that the Biden White House has manufactured this crisis by rescinding the rule that allowed the Border Patrol to turn away arriving minors for public-health reasons during the pandemic. That was the green light for migrants from Mexico and Central America to make their move, sending their kids up north.

The number of unaccompanied migrant children detained along the southern border has tripled in the last two weeks to more than 3,250, filling facilities akin to jails as the Biden administration struggles to find room for them in shelters, according to documents obtained by The New York Times…

Border agents encountered a migrant at the border about 78,000 times in January, the highest number for that month in at least a decade. Most of those were adults or families who were rapidly turned away under a pandemic emergency rule. The administration is expected to announce an increase in those crossings this week, according to officials…

Health and Human Services had more than 8,100 unaccompanied children in its shelters as of Sunday, with space readily available for only 838 more, according to the documents. More than 42 percent of the roughly 3,250 children in the custody of Customs and Border Protection were held longer than the maximum of three days, even though they were referred for placement in shelters by Homeland Security, according to the documents.

By law the feds are supposed to transfer kids detained in Border Patrol facilities to more comfortable HHS shelters within 72 hours of taking them into custody, but the crush of arrivals is so enormous that they’re having logistical problems finding shelter beds and shipping them out in a timely way. Not all kids are unaccompanied either. Some show up with an older adult sibling or a grandparent; under U.S. law, that child has to be separated from the non-parent who’s with them while DHS investigates to make sure the adult isn’t a trafficker. That process can take “several weeks or even months,” per USA Today, which means that the Biden administration is being forced to engage in Trump-style family separation temporarily. The urgent need to house kids has also led Team Joe to reopen a facility at Carrio Springs, Texas, which Trump’s DHS closed two years ago due to criticism over poor conditions.

You would think the logistical crisis would have Biden and Alejandro Mayorkas scrambling to find new ways to deter minors from entering the U.S., starting perhaps with reinstating Trump’s pandemic rule allowing CBP to turn them away. But you’d be wrong. There’s an element of surprise in the tone of this WaPo story published on Saturday about just how unconcerned the Biden White House seems to be about the storm gathering on the border. “Biden administration rushes to accommodate border surge, with few signs of plans to contain it,” reads the headline.

Biden ran for president on promises to repudiate his predecessor’s policies and make the United States more welcoming to immigrants again. Six weeks after taking office, he appears on a path to a crisis, despite months of warnings from veteran Homeland Security officials about the risks of abrupt policy moves during the pandemic and when millions of Mexicans, Central Americans and others are facing deteriorating and desperate conditions back home…

Less clear is what the administration will do if unauthorized crossings continue on a record-breaking path. The latest U.S. Customs and Border Protection figures show Mexican adults and children crossing at levels not recorded in years — a change from 2019 when Central American families made up the largest group of asylum seekers. Mexico’s economy contracted 8.5 percent last year, and many Mexican migrants appear to be fleeing states scarred by some of the country’s worst drug cartel violence…

Border agents are just as busy though, and they say the number of migrants observed on surveillance cameras who successfully evade capture, known as “got-aways,” has also soared. Officials said they counted 1,000 got-aways on a single day last month.

In addition to the 350 or so minors surrendering each day to border agents and requesting asylum, in other words (a fourfold increase since last fall), there are hundreds upon hundreds of illegal immigrants hopping the border and disappearing into the U.S. It seems probable that we’re absorbing a thousand people each day right now, if not more. And as vaccinations increase in the U.S. and the pandemic eases, Biden will come under heavy pressure from the left to rescind the public-health rule that’s currently allowing CBP to turn adults seeking asylum away. That’ll make things even worse.

The closest WaPo comes to identifying a policy solution for this problem from the White House is … maybe putting some asylum-seekers up in hotels instead of shelters once they run out of beds in the latter.

The silver lining to this fiasco is that it’s going to make it even easier for the GOP to defeat Biden’s mega-amnesty bill if and when it finally comes to the Senate floor. There was never real doubt about that; Joe Manchin wasn’t going to be the 50th vote for the policy version of a super-charged electromagnet drawing illegals from across the southern hemisphere to the Mexican border. But this’ll make it a nonstarter, and create some real political awkwardness for the president. A border crisis which Biden is doing next to nothing to solve is a bad backdrop politically for a bill that would legalize many millions of illegals who are already here. Sleepy Joe’s going to end up caught between progressives, whose appetite for open borders will permit no deterrent measures against migrants, and the rest of the country. Good luck to him finding a way through that.