More than 800 unaccompanied migrant children were apprehended in a single day this week, as the numbers of migrants coming to the southern border continue to surge with no sign of slowing down despite the heat of the summer months.
Health and Human Services announced that 834 unaccompanied children and teenagers were apprehended on Thursday, significantly higher than the 30-day average of 512.
It means that there are a total 2,784 children in Customs and Border Protection (CBP) custody, and 14,523 in HHS custody. The Biden administration has focused on transferring children apprehended at the border from CBP to HHS custody and then to sponsors or parents already in the country – often illegally themselves. On Thursday, 612 children were discharged from HHS custody to parents or guardians.
The numbers reflect a continuing surge at the southern border and a sign that the border crisis that has dogged the Biden administration is unlikely to stop any time soon. The extreme heat of the summer months often acts to deter making the journey north in past years, but the numbers have shown no sign of slowing down.
The Biden administration has been expelling single adults and some migrant families via Title 42 public health protections related to the COVID-19 pandemic but has not been expelling unaccompanied children or migrant families with small children.
More than 188,000 migrants were encountered in June, including increases in UACs and migrant family units. The Associated Press reported this week that that number is expected to rise to more than 210,000 for July. That's compared to about 78,000 when President Biden took office in January, and about 33,000 encounters in June 2020.
The number of unaccompanied children encountered in June increased by 8%, with 15,253 encounters in June compared to 14,137 in May.
Republicans have blamed the Biden administration’s rollback of key Trump-era policies for the surge, specifically its refusal to apply Title 42 to UACs, as well as the rolling back of the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), ending border wall construction, and significantly narrowing interior enforcement. They have warned of not only of criminals coming into the country but also the potential spread of COVID-19.
Meanwhile, the Biden administration has instead emphasized "root causes" like violence, poverty, and climate change in Central America. It has also touted its ability to quickly shift kids through CBP and HHS custody.
Vice President Kamala Harris, in a visit to Del Rio, Texas in June, said the Department of Homeland Security has made "extreme progress" and pointed to the quicker processing of the tens of thousands of migrants arriving each month.
"They have instituted technology that over the last couple of months has expedited, in a very significant way, processing of people who are arriving at our border," she said.