More than 13,000 migrant children in U.S. custody, sources say

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A historic number of migrants are illegally crossing into the U.S., creating an overwhelming need for more help along the Texas border with Mexico. More than 13,000 unaccompanied migrant children are now in U.S. custody, sources told CBS News. 

The U.S. is on pace to stop more migrants crossing the border than in the last 20 years, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said Tuesday, calling the situation “difficult.” 

“We are expelling most single adults and families. We are not expelling unaccompanied children,” Mayorkas said in a statement. 

Unaccompanied minors are being held an average of 120 hours in Border Patrol facilities, CBS News has learned. It’s far longer than the 72 hours allowed by law. The surge is leading to a shortage of space to house them.

“The Border Patrol facilities have become crowded with children and the 72-hour timeframe for the transfer of children from the Border Patrol to [Health and Human Services] is not always met. HHS has not had the capacity to intake the number of unaccompanied children we have been encountering,” Mayorkas said.

He said the Biden administration is setting up additional facilities in Texas and Arizona to shelter unaccompanied minors and families, and it directed the the Federal Emergency Management Agency to assist HHS in sheltering the children. 

President Biden told reporters Tuesday he has no plans “at the moment” to travel to the southern border.

Biden Border
A migrant family crosses the border into El Paso, Texas, from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, on Friday, February 26, 2021. 

Christian Chavez / AP


Mireya Villarreal contributed to this report.

© 2021 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.



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