An Immigration and Customs Enforcement official warned officers that the agency expects the highest number of children crossing into the U.S. from Mexico in over two decades.
The warning comes as the Biden administration plans to convert immigration facilities along the border into processing hubs in order to fast-track illegal immigrant families through to releasing them into the United States, according to The Washington Post. The Biden administration is struggling to handle an influx of illegal immigrant families and children. As the Post reports:
Russell Hott, a senior official with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, notified staff of the rapid-processing plan in an email Thursday that said arrivals by unaccompanied minors and families this year “are expected to be the highest numbers observed in over 20 years.”
If U.S. border officials continue to take in more than 500 family members per day, the change in use to the family detention centers “may not be sufficient to keep pace with apprehensions,” Hott warned in his email, which was reviewed by The Post.
The Biden administration has taken a drastically different approach to immigration than either of the two prior administrations under former presidents Donald Trump or Barack Obama. Biden has emphasized processing and releasing illegal immigrants rather than detaining or barring them from entry.
In February, the Biden administration reopened a facility used for a month under the Trump administration to house unaccompanied minors caught crossing the southern border. The pandemic has drastically cut capacity at existing facilities while the number of illegal immigrants seeking to enter the United States has surged along with Biden’s victory in last year’s presidential election.
The growing crisis at the southern border has begun to worry even some Democrats as lawmakers call on Biden to stiffen border security and his immigration policies. Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) said that the influx of immigrants will harm his community, as well as the Democratic Party.
“You just can’t say, ‘Yeah, yeah, let everybody in’ — because then we’re affected down there at the border,” Cuellar said last month. “The bad guys know how to market this.”
On Monday, Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D-TX) warned that Biden’s current policies are attracting a flood of immigrants to the United States because of the lax border policies.
“Well, my concern at this in the recent weeks in my district, migrants who made it across the border, who even pass the line of MPPs [Migrant Protection Protocols], who were 5,000 folks that have been waiting for two years across the border, made it across the Rio Grande Valley were processed and released,” Gonzalez said during an appearance on CNN. “If that is the message that we send to Central America and around the world, I can assure you, it won’t be long before we have tens of thousands of people showing up to our border.”
“And it’ll be catastrophic for our party, for our country, for my region, for my district, in the middle of a pandemic, in an area where we’ve lost over 3,000 people in my small congressional district,” he continued. “So, I think we need to have a better plan in place. I think asylum seekers should be able to ask for asylum and be processed in their home country or a neighboring country. And we shouldn’t have a policy in place that impulses people to make this 2,000 mile trek where cartels and human traffickers are enriching themselves.”