The Biden administration is reportedly set to spend $86 million in taxpayer funds to purchase hotel rooms to house migrants who are coming over the United States-Mexico border in record numbers, according to Axios.
In addition to an ongoing child migrant crisis, which has exploded in previous weeks and is now overwhelming Customs and Border Protection facilities, with over 13,000 unaccompanied minor children immigrants currently in custody in reportedly deteriorating conditions, the Biden administration is struggling to manage migrant families, many of whom are seeking asylum.
The “growing numbers of migrant families trying to come to the U.S. — in addition to already overwhelming numbers of kids crossing the border without their parents or legal guardians…appear to be straining government resources,” Axios noted Sunday.
To handle the families, the Biden administration has, the outlet reports, authorized Immigration and Customs Enforcement to purchase hotel rooms near border areas in Arizona and Texas, with the idea that the rooms could be in use for months.
“The Biden administration has awarded an $86 million contract for hotel rooms near the border to hold around 1,200 migrant family members who cross the U.S.-Mexico border, DHS officials confirmed to Axios,” per the outlet. “The contract through Endeavors, a Texas-based nonprofit, is for six months but could be extended and expanded. The hotels will be near border areas, including in Arizona and Texas.”
Although the child migrant crisis has dominated headlines, CBP estimates that an increasing number of families are also making the journey, claiming asylum at the southern border after escaping from deteriorating economic conditions in Central America. Under the Trump administration, asylum seekers were required to “remain in Mexico” pending a hearing in front of an asylum court, but under the Biden administration, new asylum seekers presenting themselves at the border are being processed differently, with some being allowed to enter the country to stay with family members while awaiting adjudication.
“The latest decision to secure hotel rooms comes as the US is seeing the biggest surge of migrants at the border in decades, pacing towards a potential 2 million migrants at the US-Mexico border this year, The Washington Post reported. The surge is putting a heavy strain on government resources and border towns,” according to Business Insider, which also reported on the hotel room contract.
The increase appears to be directly related to the change in administration. The number of migrant families presenting themselves or being captured at the border more than doubled between January and February of 2021, according to an official CBP report.
“Border officials continue to use a Trump-era order to quickly return many families to Mexico. But Mexico has limited capacity to take in migrant families and won’t accept some with young children, according to administration officials,” Axios noted. “42% of families were expelled to Mexico last month — down from 64% in January and 91% in October, according to the data. More than 13,000 family members who crossed the U.S. border illegally have been allowed into the country since the start of January, many released into border communities.”