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News > U.S.

US Border Patrol Holds 3,200 Migrant Minors in Custody

  • An unaccompanied migrant minor is assisted to board a Border Patrol vehicle by an officer.

    An unaccompanied migrant minor is assisted to board a Border Patrol vehicle by an officer. | Photo: Twitter @CNNPolitics

Published 9 March 2021

More than 3,200 migrant children who have arrived in the United States unaccompanied by a parent or legal guardian remain in Border Patrol custody, and some 1,400 of them have been detained beyond the legal three-day limit, U.S. media reported.

According to internal documents reviewed by CNN, the number of unaccompanied migrant children in U.S. Border Patrol facilities, which are actually jail cells not intended for children, has reached alarming levels.


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According to documents, the total number of unaccompanied migrant children in Customs and Border Patrol custody reached 3,200. Of this figure, 2,600 were awaiting placement in shelters appropriate for minors, with only 500 beds available.

According to a source quoted by the NBC television network, nearly 170 children who remained in detention as of Monday were under 13 years of age.

A recent trip to the U.S.-Mexico border by senior administration officials to review the situation on the ground revealed a rapidly increasing trend of unaccompanied children coming into the U.S. Less than a week ago; the figure totaled 1,700 children in custody.

Among the senior officials was Susan Rice, former President Barack Obama's national security adviser who now heads Biden's Domestic Policy Council. Rice pressed officials from the Department of Health and Human Resources, who run the shelters, on their readiness to deal with the surge and process migrant children more efficiently, according to a source familiar with the visit.

The growing number of unaccompanied children has raised alarm bells among officials scrambling to find shelter space to care for kids amid an ongoing pandemic that resulted in some locations keeping some beds unoccupied to comply with health guidelines.

The information reveals a permanent bottleneck in the system, with increasing numbers of children arriving, far more than the U.S. Border Patrol can handle. It also underscores the obstacles the Biden administration is faced with when it tries to strike a more humanitarian approach on immigration while dealing with the actual situation on the border.

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