The emergency sites in Albion and Erie will together have a possible capacity of 888 beds. Both are meant for children aged 12 and under who cross the border without a parent or other responsible adult. The children are identified as unaccompanied minors.
The number of illegal border crossers rose in March, Biden’s second full month in office, topping 172,000, a jump of over 71,000 from the month earlier. The number of unaccompanied minors more than multiplied to 18,890. The numbers do not include people who crossed the border and escaped U.S. officials.
The Border Patrol has been “overwhelmed” by the flood of illegal immigrants, Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) told The Epoch Times last month.
“All our good intentions are being overwhelmed by the pure numbers of people coming in,” he added.
Border Patrol is the first point of contact for border crossers. After a period meant to be three days or less in Border Patrol facilities, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) carries the immigrants to facilities across the country.
The Office of Refugee Resettlement, part of HHS, is launching the new emergency intake sites in Michigan and Pennsylvania.
The Albion facility will be at the Starr Commonwealth campus. The Erie facility will be at the Pennsylvania International Academy.
The office has a program that covers over 200 facilities in 22 states but has been required to open at least 11 new sites to manage the sharp surge in unaccompanied minors, including several at U.S. military bases.
The Trump administration was suspending young immigrants who crossed the border but once Biden took office, he led all minors to be accepted into the country and quickly assembled with a sponsor, usually a parent or other family member, already in the nation.
Administration officials have called the change a part of an attempt to develop a “more humane” immigration system. Stephen Miller, one of former President Donald Trump’s top immigration advisers, has said the policies incentivize parents to send their children on long, deadly treks to the United States alone.
HHS was caring for nearly 17,000 unaccompanied minors as of April 8. Another 3,881 were in Border Patrol custody.
Republicans and some Democrats have repeatedly slammed the Biden administration for its cancellation of key Trump-era policies, claiming the changes have spurred the spike in illegal immigrants crossing the border.