Cindy Huang, director of HHS’s Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), made the remarks in a warranted declaration to a federal court judge in a case related to the 1997 Flores settlement agreement, which figures the policies and guidelines for the care, custody, and release of immigrant children under federal custody.
In her affidavit, Huang described the ongoing surge of illegal immigrants at the U.S. southern border, especially a surge in unaccompanied minors, as “historic” and “unprecedented,” while telling the federal judge that she thinks the flood is likely to increase in the “coming weeks and months.”
Huang's remarks entirely contradict what President Joe Biden has said about the crisis at the border, as he said it is nothing unusual, not an irregular surge. Biden sought to downplay the severity of the situation at the U.S. southern border, saying that the influx was driven by normal seasonal patterns rather than his administration’s new policies.
“As an initial matter, it is important to understand that the current influx is not limited to the January-March time period but is an ongoing challenge that will likely increase in severity in the coming weeks and months,” Huang told a federal judge from California.
The statement was made in response to a series of proposals by an independent monitor and special expert about the conditions at CBP facilities, ORR emergency holding facilities, and other facilities currently caring for migrant children.
“ORR appreciates the Interim Report’s acknowledgement that the U.S. Government is dealing with an unprecedented number of UC apprehended at the border and that ORR has vastly expanded its capacity in a short amount of time,” she said.
“It happens every single solitary year. There is a significant increase in the number of people coming to the border in the winter months of January, February, March. It happens every year,” Biden said at the time.
Other members of Biden’s administration such as White House press secretary Jen Psaki have also been cautious about using the term “crisis” to illustrate the situation at the border.
In her statement, Huang describes temporary migrant holding centers, known as Emergency Intake Sites, as “temporary emergency sites” that are “focused on providing a crisis standard of care until [unaccompanied children] can be transferred to a better-resourced setting.”