The Biden administration will not allow reporters to tour juvenile detention facilities now housing unaccompanied minors who came across the United States-Mexico border seeking asylum.
“Reporters will not be allowed inside the Carrizo Springs facility for unaccompanied minors that was recently opened under the Biden administration in Texas, a Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families (ACF) spokesperson” said in response to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request to tour the facility.
“The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) is not hosting media tours of unaccompanied children (UC) facilities currently due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the spokesperson told the media outlet, echoing an answer reportedly given to ABC News when they also requested a tour.
“If media tours resume, we will send a media advisory,” the spokesperson added.
During a press briefing Monday, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said he would “look into” the ABC News reporter’s claims, telling the media that the Biden administration was “open” to media scrutiny.
“I’m happy to take a look at that, I owe it to my people to understand the situation and the reasons why access was denied,” Mayorkas said. “Let me share with you what I communicate to the workforce and we’ll leave it at that because it’s in the service of openness and transparency. Don’t shrink from criticism, just work very hard not to deserve it.”
The Biden administration appears to be facing a child migrant crisis. President Joe Biden loosened restrictions on the southern border, and asylum seekers responded, flooding over the border in the hopes of taking advantage of the new administration’s more lenient immigration policies.
As a result, the Biden administration has had to reopen juvenile migrant detention facilities — a move made in sharp contrast to Biden’s rhetoric on the campaign trail, when he accused the Trump administration of keeping “kids in cages,” when it housed unaccompanied minors in the same or similar facilities.
“The emergency facility — a vestige of the Trump administration that was open for only a month in summer 2019 — is being reactivated to hold up to 700 children ages 13 to 17,” The Washington Post reported last week. “Government officials say the camp is needed because facilities for migrant children have had to cut capacity by nearly half because of the coronavirus pandemic. At the same time, the number of unaccompanied children crossing the border has been inching up, with January reporting the highest total — more than 5,700 apprehensions — for that month in recent years.”
That number is only expected to grow, according to Axios.
“On Monday, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said from the White House podium the current situation is not a crisis. Today, the president will be told the number of migrant kids is on pace to exceed the all-time record by 45% — and the administration doesn’t have enough beds,” the outlet reported Tuesday.
So far, though, Mayorkas has said, the administration is not dubbing the situation a “crisis.”
“We are challenged at the border,” Mayorkas said in the briefing Monday. “It is a stressful challenge.”
“That is why, quite frankly, we are working as hard as we are, not only in addressing the urgency of the challenge, but also in building the capacity to manage it and to meet our humanitarian aspirations and execution of the president’s vision,” he added.