Due to thousands of unaccompanied immigrant children arriving in the U.S. from the southern border in recent weeks and months, the Biden Administration reopened shelters to temporarily house these individuals.
According to data from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, more than 19,000 immigrant children, ranging in age from toddlers to teenagers, crossed the border illegally between October 2020 and January 2021. A majority of these young people came from Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala.
Reopening Carrizo Springs Shelter
Last month, a temporary shelter was reopened in Carrizo Springer, Texas, to house up to 700 migrant teenagers. The Biden Administration states that the purpose of this is to reduce the time children spend in Border Patrol custody and while awaiting a bed at an actual shelter. However, immigrant advocates claim that the administration is not taking steps much better than those taken during Trump’s time in office.
Additionally, there may be plans to reopen an emergency for-profit emergency influx shelter for migrant children in Homestead, Florida, which was closed in 2019 after reports of serious health concerns and safety threats.
Children’s Rights After Crossing the Border
Under a public health law enacted during the Trump Administration’s response to COVID-19, most single adult immigrants and immigrant families were sent back to the country from which they came from. However, President Biden is not refusing entry to unaccompanied minors, which has led to strained government shelters and slow processing.
Most of the migrant children who come into the U.S. unaccompanied are able to ask for asylum, which is a legal protection that individuals can seek if they are fleeing political, religious, or other persecution in their home countries.
Once children physically cross the border, many are almost immediately taken into Border Patrol custody where they cannot be kept for more than 72 hours. They then must be transported to a shelter in the country that is operated by the Office of Refugee Resettlement, the ORR, housed under the Department of Health and Human Services. There is no time limit to how long children can be held in these shelters.
If you or a family member needs immigration assistance, Maney Gordon Zeller is ready to help you. Contact our firm at (800) 708-4399 to get started with your case today.