The number of migrant children detained in Border Patrol facilities has tripled over the past two weeks, amid an ongoing surge of migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.
Over 3,250 migrant children are currently in Border Patrol custody, according to internal documents obtained by multiple outlets. That figure is triple the amount from two weeks ago and almost double the 1,700 children held in Border Patrol facilities as of last week.
Of those detained, over 1,360 children have been held longer than the maximum 72 hours before being transferred from Border Patrol to shelters run by the Department of Health and Human Services. However, while around 2,600 children are currently waiting for transfer, just 500 beds suitable for children are available in HHS shelters, according to the documents.
The Border Patrol transferred over 7,000 migrant children into HHS shelters last month, the highest ever recorded during the month of February.
The Biden administration moved last week to allow HHS shelters to operate at 100 percent capacity to accommodate an expected influx of migrants, despite the threat of increased coronavirus spread in the shelters. The President reportedly received a briefing warning of record numbers of child migrants at the border in the coming weeks.
The current surge in migrants is due in part to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, two hurricanes that devastated Central America in November, and a perception that the Biden administration will have looser immigration policies.
The administration has already begun dismantling the Trump administration’s “Remain in Mexico” policy, which ordered asylum seekers to wait in Mexico while their cases are processed. Additionally, immigration officials have restarted “catch-and-release” policies allowing migrants to be released into U.S. towns on the border if holding facilities are full.