[guest post by Dana]
I know a number of media outlets have published stories about the media visiting the detention center in Donna, Texas. I decided to bring to your attention CBS New’s Homeland Security reporter Nicole Sganga’s blunt description about what she saw when she visited the facility:
Reporters toured the temporary border facility in Donna, TX today.
The Biden admin allowed pooled coverage for the first time.
We saw a “pod” designed for 32 migrant children under CDC guidelines now holding 615.
The facility is at 1700% pandemic capacity.
Unaccompanied migrant children ages 4 months – 9 years old are now being held in the recreational area around the clock because there’s just no room for them in the dormitory areas.
The outdoor recreational area is being used to stage COVID testing before unaccompanied migrant children are transferred to HHS facilities.
We counted more than 50 COVID positive (and largely asymptomatic) kids waiting for their quarantined bus right next to a soccer game.
More than 2000 migrants at the temporary processing facility in Donna, TX have been here for over the legal limit of 72 hours.
Senior CBP officials told reporters more than 1200 migrants are processed and waiting to be transferred to HHS facilities. HHS has nowhere to put them.
At least 39 unaccompanied migrant children have been in the temporary processing facility for more than 15 DAYS, Acting Executive Officer for RGV Operational Programs Division, Oscar Escamilla, told reporters.
The legal limit is 72 hours.
Raul Ortiz, Deputy Chief of U.S. Border Patrol, told reporters CBP agents now see “self-separation” by families expelled under Title 42.
Unaccompanied migrant children re-cross the border without their parents so they can seek legal asylum within the United States.
Deputy Chief of the U.S. Border Patrol, Raul Ortiz, told reporters @CBP anticipates *more than 1 million encounters* of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border in FY 2021 alone.
It cost $6.1 million to stand up the processing facility in Donna, TX, according to Acting Executive Officer, Oscar Escamilla.
It should cost $6 million per month for @CBP to run the facility at its 250-person capacity.
It’s so overcrowded that it costs $16 million per month.
Pool reporters stumbled upon 27 unaccompanied migrant children and young families outside of Mission, TX.
One mother of a two-month old recounted to @cbsmireya how she fled Guatemala in a raft because there was just too much violence and poverty to stay.
Reporters passed the Anzalduas International Bridge in Mission, TX, where dozens of migrants still appeared to be assembled underneath.
We asked to stop, but were not permitted.
Border agents told us @CBP does not intend to hold migrants there for more than a couple of hours.
(Make sure to click on the link to her Twitter feed to see accompanying photos.)
Another problem reported by the AP is that the US is waiving FBI checks on caregivers at new migrant facilities:
The Biden administration is not requiring FBI fingerprint background checks of caregivers at its rapidly expanding network of emergency sites to hold thousands of immigrant teenagers, alarming child welfare experts who say the waiver compromises safety.
In the rush to get children out of overcrowded and often unsuitable Border Patrol sites, President Joe Biden’s team is turning to a measure used by previous administrations: tent camps, convention centers and other huge facilities operated by private contractors and funded by U.S. Health and Human Services. In March alone, the Biden administration announced it will open eight new emergency sites across the Southwest adding 15,000 new beds, more than doubling the size of its existing system.
These emergency sites don’t have to be licensed by state authorities or provide the same services as permanent HHS facilities. They also cost far more, an estimated $775 per child per day.
And to staff the sites quickly, the Biden administration has waived vetting procedures intended to protect minors from potential harm.
Staff and volunteers directly caring for children at new emergency sites don’t have to undergo FBI fingerprint checks, which use criminal databases not accessible to the public and can overcome someone changing their name or using a false identity.
Laura Nodolf, the district attorney in Midland, Texas, where HHS opened an emergency site this month, said that without fingerprint checks, “we truly do not know who the individual is who is providing direct care.”
“That’s placing the children under care of HHS in the path, potentially, of a sex offender,” Nodolf said. “They are putting these children in a position of becoming potential victims.”
Unsurprisingly, President Biden’s approval numbers on immigration have slipped from when he took office in January, according to a new NPR/Marist Poll released yesterday:
Just a third of Americans questioned in an NPR/Marist poll released on Tuesday say they approve of Biden’s handling of the issue of immigration, with 53% saying they disapprove of his performance. While two-thirds of Democrats say they approve of how Biden has handled the issue in the first two months of his presidency, approval plunges to 27% among independents and to just 5% among Republicans…
The poll indicates that Biden’s overall approval on immigration is down four points from late January, when it stood at 38%.
Americans' approval of President Biden’s COVID response remains high…
But, how is he doing with the economy and immigration?
— Marist Poll (@maristpoll) March 30, 2021
Pushback from the Democrat Party seems to be coming from the progressive wing:
Biden is also facing incoming fire from the Democratic Party’s progressive left, which is increasingly frustrated with the slow progress so far by the president to deliver what he promised on the 2020 campaign trail – a more humane immigration system than the restrictive policies under former President Donald Trump’s administration.
As a reminder, during his campaign for the presidency, Joe Biden’s goals for immigration included:
The challenges we face will not be solved by a constitutionally dubious “national emergency” to build a wall, by separating families, or by denying asylum to people fleeing persecution and violence. Addressing the Trump-created humanitarian crisis at our border, bringing our nation together, reasserting our core values, and reforming our immigration system will require real leadership and real solutions. Biden is prepared on day one to deliver both.
As president, Biden will forcefully pursue policies that safeguard our security, provide a fair and just system that helps to grow and enhance our economy, and secure our cherished values. He will:
Take urgent action to undo Trump’s damage and reclaim America’s values
Modernize America’s immigration system
Welcome immigrants in our communities
Reassert America’s commitment to asylum-seekers and refugees
Tackle the root causes of irregular migration
Implement effective border screening