For the first time on Tuesday, the Biden administration allowed journalists inside its main border detention facility for migrant children. U.S. Customs and Border Protection allowed two journalists from The Associated Press and a crew from CBS to tour the facility in Donna, Texas, in the Rio Grande Valley, the nation’s busiest corridor for illegal crossings. Thousands of children and families have been arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border in recent weeks and packing facilities, and the White House has been under pressure to bring more transparency to the process.
The visit to the facility revealed a tent structure severely overcrowded with more than 4,100 people, including children and families. The facility is intended for 250. Most were unaccompanied children processed in tents before being taken to facilities run by the Department of Health and Human Services and then placed with a family member, relative or sponsor. The children were being housed by the hundreds in eight “pods” formed by plastic dividers, each about 3,200 square feet (297 square meters) in size. Many of the pods had more than 500 children in them.
Biden has declined to resume the Trump administration’s practice of expelling unaccompanied immigrant children. Several hundred kids and teenagers are crossing the border daily, and parents refused entry into the U.S. have sent their children across the border alone, hoping they will be placed with relatives eventually.
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