Stef W. Knight, Axios, February 26, 2021
A Customs and Border Protection staffer told top administration officials Thursday the agency is projecting a peak of 13,000 unaccompanied children crossing the border in May, sources directly familiar with the discussion told Axios.
Why it matters: That projection would exceed the height of the 2019 crisis, which led to the infamous “kids-in-cages” disaster. It also underscores a rapidly escalating crisis for the Biden administration.
- “We’re seeing the highest February numbers than we’ve ever seen in the history of the [Unaccompanied Alien Child] program,” a Department of Health and Human Services official told Axios.
What to watch: The administration is already preparing to quickly expand its network of migrant-child shelters, which have had their capacity sharply reduced because of coronavirus protocols.
- HHS, which oversees the child shelter network, is talking with the Pentagon about finding additional overflow sites, which often resemble big tents. Military bases were used during the 2014 and 2019 crises as additional temporary facilities.
It’s not the only sign of the new administration buckling up.
- The Immigration and Customs Enforcement chief of staff told officials this month, “We need to prepare for border surges now,” according to an internal email obtained by Axios but first reported by the Washington Times.