Weekly Immigration News: Handling Children Seeking Asylum At the Border

COVID-19 remains an issue that is backlogging the US legal immigration system, yet the Biden Administration seems to be having a difficult time managing a predictable migration pattern of new arrivals at the U.S.-Mexico border. The government is attempting to halt migration and send people back to their home countries but their methods are questionable and their outcome is unclear.

Attorney Lal wanted me to add this note: It is not a crisis that children are coming to the United States and asking for asylum. Migration is the highest form of flattery. The crisis is what the administration is doing with them.

  • Although First Lady Dr. Jill Biden promised the Latino community that she “[would] be working” on reunifying migrant families separated at the border, it has become clear that Jill Biden has “no formal role” in reunification. In fact, the administration hasn’t even announced a plan to reunite parents and children, currently overwhelmed by what is being reported as a rise of unaccompanied minors at the US-Mexico border. Several advocates have commented on the issue, citing worry and concern about the lack of prioritization placed on unifying migrant families. It should be noted that the DHS has stated that its task force is continuing to work on solving this major immigration problem.
  • This Tuesday, John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, announced that the Department of Health and Human Services requested use of two Texas military posts in order to have more room to accommodate unaccompanied minors from the southern border. There have been two other occasions where the Pentagon approved such a request, but as of now, the request is still in the review process.
  • Kamala Harris, Vice President of the United States, has become the “point person” for the White House’s response to the immigration surge at the southern border. As part of her new role, Harris will be responsible for curbing the increasing number of immigrants (including unaccompanied minors) entering the United States. Her main priorities will be to address “the root causes” of rapid immigration to the US, and improving the diplomatic ties between with the US, the Northern Triangle countries, and Mexico. It is unclear when Harris will visit these countries, or when she will being talking to other diplomatic leaders.          
  • On Wednesday, a group of both Democratic and Republican senators convened to talk about immigration reform, marking the first time during this Congress that a bipartisan group discussed the issue. Although both parties agreed that a comprehensive immigration bill is not possible, Senators from the two sides talked about what parameters might be needed for a compromise.
  • At his first press conference, President Joe Biden stated that he wants Mexico to take back the migrants entering the United States through the southern border. Although Biden also talked about the administration’s stance on allowing unaccompanied children to seek asylum in the US, his move towards Mexico is likely to cause legal problems with advocates. Several organizations are currently in the midst of fighting against the legalities behind driving out migrant families, and it is probable that they will also challenge Biden’s statement.
  • Over the past 30 days, the United States Border Patrol has found around 5,000 undocumented migrants per day, placing the country on a course to set a record high number of border crossings this March. They are expecting to reach 150,000 crossings per month, passing the previous Trump-era record of 144,000 crossings by around 6,000 people. Moreover, these numbers are likely to rise going into the summer months. It should be noted that many of the immigrants (excluding unaccompanied minors and a few migrant families) encountered entering at the border are being sent back to Mexico under CDC authority.

Photo Credit: Bill Morrow

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