The estimate highlights a growing challenge for American President Joe Biden, who is struggling to accommodate an increasing number of minors, mainly from Central America.
This Wednesday (31), for example, the Mexican government reported having found a 4-year-old Honduran traveling alone near the river that separates Mexico from the United States.
The National Institute of Migration of Mexico (INM) said the boy was unaccompanied among trees and undergrowth, walking towards the border. A group of three women and six children, all Hondurans, were in the same area, but no one was responsible for the boy, according to the organization.
The ten migrants were taken into custody by the Mexican department dedicated to the welfare of the family.
The report by the Customs and Border Protection Service (CBP), released by Reuters, estimates that between 159,000 and 184,000 unaccompanied minors (who try to cross the border alone, with smugglers or with relatives other than their own) parents) arrive in the United States in fiscal year 2021, which began in October 2020.
If the numbers are confirmed, it will be the largest flow ever recorded since 2010, when the historical series begins. So far, the year with the highest apprehension of unaccompanied minors was 2019, still under the management of former President Donald Trump, when 76,000 children and adolescents arrived alone at the border.
The month of March is also expected to have the highest number of unaccompanied minors, with 15,000 crossing the border with Mexico, according to the CBP estimate – the official statistics are expected to be published in early April. Thus, the period would debunk May 2019, when 11,500 children were apprehended.
The document also provides estimates for the occupation of shelters to which these children must be sent within 72 hours after the seizure. As of Monday (29), there were 12,000 children in the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services, a number that could quadruple and reach 53,000 by September.
CBP’s projections, however, exclude Mexican children, since the majority could quickly return to Mexico through a bilateral agreement. Estimates are also based on the assumption that the Biden government will not change policies towards unaccompanied minors – new policies can lead to different numbers.
In any case, the increasing increase puts the shelter system under severe pressure. According to data from the Refugee Resettlement Office, an arm of the Department of Health and Human Services, there are about 11,900 vacancies available in these establishments. To deal with the demand, the Biden government launched an effort last week to create an additional 16,000 vacancies, according to the American broadcaster CBS.
In another move, the United States Department of Homeland Security determined two weeks ago that an agency normally charged with responding to floods and hurricanes will help care for an increasing number of migrant children arriving at the border with Mexico.
The Secretary of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, said in a statement that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema) was summoned to “help receive, shelter and transport children” for the next 90 days.
The United States is facing the biggest increase in migrants in the last 20 years. According to figures released by the Department of Homeland Security two weeks ago, attempts to cross borders by people from Mexico and the Northern Triangle – Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador – have steadily increased since April 2020.
The coronavirus pandemic, hurricanes and other natural disasters that caused great damage in the immigrants’ countries of origin explain, according to the secretary, the worsening living conditions of those who risk crossing the border illegally.
CBP and the Refugee Resettlement Office did not respond to requests for comment made by Reuters.
Get the latest news delivered to your inbox
Follow us on social media networks