Biden officials ‘growingly alarmed’ about the care of migrant children in government custody: report

Biden officials ‘growingly alarmed’ about the care of migrant children in government custody: report

Most migrant children who enter the United States from Mexico do so with their parents, but some are unaccompanied — and according to an internal government memo that CNN has obtained a copy of, the Biden Administration has struggled with the influx of unaccompanied migrant children and what to do with them.

That memo, according to CNN reporter Priscilla Alvarez, was dated July 23, 2021 and read, “As child welfare professionals with combined decades of experience working with (unaccompanied children), we, the (Office of Refugee Resettlement) field staff supervisors, have become growingly alarmed at the erosion of child-welfare centered approaches within the UC program.”

The memo also read, “We see the curtailing of ORR's child-welfare centered practices, developed over the past two decades specifically for UC, as dangerous on many levels. Therefore, we feel compelled to act by expressing this concern to you, our leadership."

Officials, Alvarez reports, were concerned that emergency sites were being “run like disaster camps” and lacked “even the most basic safety procedures.”

READ: Noam Chomsky: How the U.S.-Mexico Border Is Cruel by Design

“By July, when officials sent the memo to leadership,” Alvarez explains, “more than 79,000 unaccompanied migrant children had crossed the U.S.-Mexico border in the year, surpassing previous records and overwhelming border facilities. Emergency intake sites sprung up across the country to make up for limited shelter capacity, one of which drew so much concern that an official likened a site to Border Patrol stations, akin to jail-like facilities.”

Alvarez adds, “Amid the political backlash over the influx of minors, pressure to address the issue trickled down from the White House to agency staff, according to multiple officials, fueling frustrations and raising alarm about the (Biden) Administration's handling of unaccompanied minors.”

The CNN reporter cites the COVID-19 pandemic as one of the reasons why the federal government had “limited resources to accommodate migrant children” when that memo was written back in July.

“Shelters set up measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, limiting capacity,” Alvarez notes. “Shelters designed to care for unaccompanied children were therefore ill-prepared when there was a dramatic spike of minors at the U.S.-Mexico border.”

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