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FEMA Heads To The Border To Place Record Number Of Young Migrants With Sponsors, Family Members

Lee esta historia en español.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency usually responds to major disasters like floods and storms, but the Biden administration has asked for the agency's help with another crisis: to assist with a record number of young migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border.

The increase in arrivals is due to ongoing violence, food insecurity and natural disasters in Central America, according to a Department of Homeland Security press release.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said Border Patrol facilities are no place for children.

“I am incredibly proud of the agents of the Border Patrol, who have been working around the clock in difficult circumstances to take care of children temporarily in our care,” Mayorkas said. “We are working in partnership with (the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) to address the needs of unaccompanied children, which is made only more difficult given the protocols and restrictions required to protect the public health and the health of the children themselves.”


Reporting by Ted Hesson and Aram Roston for REUTERS

Over the next 90 days, FEMA will work to place them with a family member or sponsor until their immigration case is heard.

COVID-19 has complicated the process. Mayorkas said anyone apprehended at the border will be denied entry to protect the health and safety of the migrants and to stop the spread of COVID-19.

That continues an order first enacted by the Trump administration at the start of the pandemic.

President Biden has faced pushback for the way he has handled the growing number of young migrants and families at the border, and many advocates fear for the health of these migrants, who are being held for increasingly longer periods of time.

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Kathleen Creedon can be reached at kathleen@tpr.org or on Twitter at @Kath_Creedon