President Biden reopens a Trump-era facility for migrant children outraging many, including fellow Democrats.
By Annika Henthorn
During President Biden’s campaign, he vowed to undo the inhumane, immigration policies Trump implemented during his presidency. However, this has taken a quick turn after Biden announced he has reopened an emergency facility for migrant teens, which was last opened in the summer of 2019 for one month under the Trump administration.
Located in Carrizo Springs, Texas, this facility holds up to 700 children from ages 13-17, according to The Washington Post. Officials say its reopening serves as additional space since COVID-19 has cut the capacity of the facilities in half. Due to the reversal of Trump’s immigration policy, there has been a spike of unaccompanied, migrant children, with 5,700 reported in January, the highest total according to The Washington Post.
The ideal goal for the facility is to ensure that the child is there for no more than 30 days, arranging for an approved sponsor to care for the child. However, the average time a child typically spends is 42 days. Denise Bell, a researcher for refugee and migrant rights at Amnesty International USA has told Business Insider that “a government agency is not a parent for children.” She later goes on to say that “children who are alone need to be accommodated for their safety while the government identifies and reunites them with appropriate sponsors. We don't want to endanger children and we don't want them held in detention or in facilities that don't meet their best interests."
Business Insider has revealed that because this facility is deemed an influx facility, it is not subject to state regulations and unlicensed in childcare, prompting much concern. These facilities are typically temporary and meant for emergencies, not permanent residence. For many, this feels as though the United States have regressed in its progress for reformed immigration policy. The re-opening of a facility that caused such protest and controversy during Trump’s presidency has caused people to speculate if Biden’s promise for a more humane immigration system was hollow. Linda Brandmiller, an immigration lawyer who represents unattended minors, strongly believes "it's unnecessary, it's costly, and it goes absolutely against everything Biden promised he was going to do." Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez also spoke out that "is not okay, never has been okay, never will be okay — no matter the administration or party."
However, some argue that although it’s never an easy decision, COVID-19 has complicated decisions on how to properly care for migrant children. Mark Greenberg, a senior fellow at the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute and former HHS official, has told Business Insider that "opening an influx facility is never something that people want to do, but sometimes, it's the only alternative to having children backed up in [Customs and Border Protection] holding facilities that are totally inappropriate for children.” Although both are not ideal, many believe that the administration is facing a tough and time-sensitive issue on how to safely house the growing number of migrant children during the pandemic.
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