Thousands of unaccompanied migrant children have been making their way to the southwestern border in recent weeks, presenting the new challenge for the Biden administration as it attempts to create a compassionate approach to unauthorised immigration.
Most of the children, who are coming from Central America by the hundreds each day, are being placed under COVID 19 quarantine for 10 days and then seesawed to shelters around the country, prompting accusations that President Biden is returning to one of the most questionable practices of the Trump administration, the extended detainment of migrant children.
In the last week, the Border Patrol intercepted more than 2,000 young migrants travelling without an adult, most of them in their teens but some as young as six years old, and there’s widespread concern that their numbers in coming months could break the record set in May 2019, when 11,000 migrants were encountered by the Border Patrol.
One Homeland Security official said that they’re being hammered and that they were seeing minors up and down the line, although he was speaking on the condition of anonymity because the official wasn’t allowed to speak publicly about the situation.
The influx of unaccompanied children in vast numbers, compounds a difficult situation already in the making, with migrant families and single adults arriving at the border in ever-larger numbers in recent months.
Numerous migrants, not all, are being turned back by US officials under an emergency public health law invoked by then President Donald Trump at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
But the Biden administration has chosen not to deny entry to minors, and they’re now crowding border processing facilities and straining government shelters.
Human rights groups have criticised the decision to keep children in confinement during the weeks or months it takes to place them with relatives, a strategy they say harks back to the Trump administration’s construction of tent encampments along the border to hold an overflow of migrant children.
Last week, the Biden administration reestablished a makeshift shelter in Carrizo Springs, Texas, to house up to 700 migrant teens. The shelter, which faced a torrent of critique, was closed in July 2019 after the number of children arriving at the border piercingly declined.
Joshua Rubin, an activist with Witness at the Border, which was planning to stage demonstrations outside a soon to reopen migrant children’s centre in Florida said that it seemed that this administration can’t think its way through to a new way to manage the situation and that spending time in these large, impersonal places traumatises migrants.
It’s only been a short while since Joe Biden has been in office, and I’m guessing that he’s got a lot on his plate because Donald Trump left numerous things in a complete mess, and it’s going to take a while before the Biden administration turn it all around.
But I do hope that we’re not going to hear this same argument four years from now because Joe Biden only has four years to undo Donald Trump’s damage. After all, at the moment it seems like the same dog and pony show.
Sadly, this is a desperate situation, especially for those children that are unaccompanied minors, and I no doubt, some will never be reunited with their families, and if they are to be put in shelters, these shelters should be as humane as possible, they’re not animals, they’re children! And should be processed as quickly as possible and then released to foster carers or their relatives if any can be located because you can’t just throw them into the wild.