“It’s a wave that will continue to be a challenge,” one DHS official said.
The Biden administration has already said it’s not its policy to return unaccompanied migrant children.
“The policy of this administration is not to expel unaccompanied children who arrive at our borders,” a White House spokesperson told CNN. “The Border Patrol will continue to transfer unaccompanied children to the HHS Office of Refugee Resettlement so they may be properly cared for in appropriate shelters, consistent with their best interest.”
The US is “having to find alternative pathways” for families arriving in south Texas, where the largest number of families and children arrive at the border, meaning that families who are not returned to Mexico are generally processed into the US under pre-Covid protocols, another DHS official said.
Customs and Border Protection “takes very seriously the safety and well-being of its workforce and those they encounter, and we are taking even more precautions due to COVID-19. As they always have, the number of individuals crossing the border continues to fluctuate and we continue to adapt accordingly,” the agency said in a statement, adding: “For those released, CBP may work with non-government organizations who will assist them through the out-of-custody process.”
“There is concern about impending capacity issues,” one DHS official said.
The US is in discussions with Mexico about a resolution, the official said, adding that Mexico has appeared willing to work with the US.
Customs and Border Protection is building soft-sided structures in Donna, Texas, to provide processing capacity in the Rio Grande Valley, one of the busiest regions for illegal border crossings, due to a nearby processing center being closed because of renovation.