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Biden to Receive Briefing Predicting Record-Breaking Influx of Child Migrants: Report

A Honduran woman carries a child as she takes part in a new caravan of migrants set to head to the United States in Chiquimula, Guatemala, January 16, 2021. (Luis Echeverria/Reuters)

President Biden will receive a briefing on Tuesday that will detail the need for 20,000 beds to house an expected influx of child migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, according to a new report.

The Domestic Policy Council will brief the president on the increasingly dire situation at the border, with the group expected to tell Biden that the number of migrant children is on track to exceed the all-time record by 45 percent, according to Axios.

The report comes one day after Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said the circumstances at the border do not constitute a crisis.

While the Department of Health and Human Services, which operates the network of child migrant shelters, is expected to tweak its coronavirus protocols to add space for an additional 2,000 minors, the report says, the administration predicts it will still need thousands of extra beds. 

The HHS shelters are expected to reach maximum capacity later this month, the report says, as DHS projects there will be 117,000 unaccompanied child migrants crossing the border this year.

Last month alone roughly 6,000 16- and 17-year-old migrants were detained at the border.

Meanwhile, the administration is considering accelerating the release of children to sponsors already in the U.S. in order to free up shelter space, according to Axios. It plans to end strict sponsor vetting requirements that were implemented as part of an agreement between DHS and HHS under the Trump administration.

On Sunday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki defended the administration’s decision to reverse a Trump-era policy that immediately expelled unaccompanied migrant children at the border in a tense exchange with Fox News’ Chris Wallace.

Wallace asked Psaki if the administration is “contributing to this crisis” by reversing the policy, adding that “border patrol officials are saying that you are creating a surge, and that by May we could see a bigger surge than we saw during the worst moments of the 2019 crisis on the border.”

“Well, Chris, the vast majority of families and adults are turned away at the border,” Psaki responded. “This is not the time to come and we have been very clear about that. But our approach in the Biden administration is that we think the most humane step we can take here is to have these children unaccompanied, kids under 18, not send them back to take a treacherous path forward.”

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