DHS projects that there will be 117,000 unaccompanied child migrants crossing the US border (see Axios piece below).
At the White House briefing today, a reporter noted that 117,000 figure “seems like a crisis.”
Alarmingly, President Biden’s press secretary refused to agree with that assessment and called it “a challenge.”
What would you call 117,000 unaccompanied children crossing the border into the US?
Correct Answer: a crisis
The Biden Administration just calls it "a challenge." pic.twitter.com/WRxWh9bCAH
— Mark Bednar (@MarkBednar) March 2, 2021
Reporter: “117,000 unaccompanied children will arrive in the US by [DHS’s] projection this year.”
“That number seems like a crisis. The Secretary said it isn’t. How would we define a crisis?”
Psaki: “Well, I’ll leave that to the Secretary of Homeland Security to define. He said it was, ‘a challenge’ — it is a challenge.”
Where do House Democrats stand?
Do House Democrats believe that DHS’s projection of 117,000 unaccompanied minors crossing the border this year is a crisis?
Or do they ignore the issue as recklessly as the Biden administration? How would they define a crisis?
Scoop: Biden briefing calls for 20,000 child migrant beds
Stef W. Kight
A briefing scheduled for President Biden this afternoon outlines the need for 20,000 beds to shelter an expected crush of child migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, Axios has learned.
Why it matters: The rapid influx of unaccompanied children is building into the administration’s first new crisis. A presentation created by the Domestic Policy Council spells out the dimensions with nearly 40 slides full of charts and details.
Driving the news: On Monday, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said from the White House podium the current situation is not a crisis. Today, the president will be told the number of migrant kids is on pace to exceed the all-time record by 45% — and the administration doesn’t have enough beds.
· Facing the growing numbers, the Department of Health and Human Services — which oversees the network of child migrant shelters — is planning to change its coronavirus protocols to make room for an additional 2,000 kids and teens, according a source with direct knowledge of the presentation and a second congressional source.
· Even with new shelters and loosened COVID-19 restrictions, the administration projects it will fall short of its needs by a couple thousand.
· DHS and HHS spokespersons did not immediately respond to emails seeking comment. The White House declined comment.
Between the lines: DHS currently projects there will be 117,000 unaccompanied child migrants crossing the border this year, according to information on the slides.
· A large number of them are teenagers. Just last month, some 6,000 migrants aged 16 and 17 were caught, according to the slides.
· HHS is expected to reach its shelter capacity later this month, according to the two sources.
What to watch: The administration is looking at ways to reduce the shelter populations by accelerating the release of children to sponsors already in the U.S., the sources said.
· They plan to end a Trump-era agreement between DHS and HHS that included strict sponsor vetting requirements — a practice some advocates say had a chilling effect on sponsors’ willingness to offer their homes.
· HHS has already said it would pay for transportation for children when sponsors cannot, and has proposed removing a request for Social Security numbers from the form filled out by the potential caretakers for unaccompanied minors, as Reuters reported.
Flashback: Rep. Henry Cueller (D-Texas), who represents a border district, has warned about the unintended consequences of such actions.