The Biden administration is enlisting the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to help manage an unprecedented surge in unaccompanied migrant children entering the United States through the US-Mexico border.
The deployment is meant to help manage a growing logistical crisis that has seen the Biden administration turn to the use of detention facilities and tent shelters that some immigration advocates have condemned as inhumane and unsuitable for children.
President Joe Biden reversed the Trump-era policy of turning away migrant children who cross into the US without their parents soon after taking office. But his administration has struggled to manage the process of caring for and sheltering them, and placing them with a vetted sponsor — usually a parent or other family member who lives in the US — in a timely manner, and finding space at facilities appropriate for housing minors.
To help manage the recent influx of minors — about 700 have come to the US in the last few days, according to the Washington Post — Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said on Saturday that FEMA would help “receive, shelter and transfer” unaccompanied minors coming across the border over the next 90 days.
There are a few goals the administration hopes to accomplish through this collaboration.
Under US law, children are required to be transferred from Border Patrol stations to shelters run by the Department of Health and Human Services within 72 hours. But according to the Washington Post, DHS has been routinely failing to meet this target, and instead, children are being held for 108 hours on average before being transferred.
The administration has reportedly asked for volunteers from ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) to help the overall surge in migrants. And DHS and HHS announced plans
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