US civil protection on duty for migrant children

The administration of US President Joe Biden has ordered the civil protection agency FEMA to help shelter thousands of migrant children on the border with Mexico. Homeland Security Minister Alejandro Mayorkas commissioned the agency on Saturday to support the construction of makeshift shelters for unaccompanied minors. The existing accommodations are completely overcrowded.

There are currently around 8,800 children in facilities owned by the US Health Department, HHS, and hundreds more with the Border Protection Agency, CBP. After taking office at the end of January, Biden relaxed the strict immigration policy of his predecessor Donald Trump. Among other things, he announced that tens of thousands of migrants who had previously had to wait in Mexico for the decision in their asylum procedures to enter the country. As a result, significantly more migrants made their way to the USA again.

While adults and families apprehended at the border continue to be sent back to Mexico, unaccompanied minors are allowed to enter the United States. In February alone, CBP officials apprehended 9457 unaccompanied minors at the border. The accommodations are so overcrowded that the hygiene rules can hardly be adhered to due to the corona pandemic.

According to the Department of Homeland Security, FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) is now to participate in a 90-day project to ensure that the children can be safely housed and then quickly taken to foster families. Most of these are family members who already live in the USA. The government is responding to the arrival of a “record number” of people, including unaccompanied minors, at the southern border, the ministry said.

Biden’s government is under massive pressure because of the conditions at the border. Critics accuse her of detaining migrant children for too long in overcrowded camps while their asylum applications are being examined, until they are taken to special facilities or to relatives.

In view of the criticism, the government also pointed out that the number of people apprehended at the border had been increasing since April 2020 – long before Biden took office in January. People are fleeing violence, natural disasters, hunger and poverty in their home countries in Central America.

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