immigrant children

FILE - In this Sunday, June 17, 2018, file photo provided by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, people who've been taken into custody related to cases of illegal entry into the United States rest in one of the cages at a facility in McAllen, Texas. A federal volunteer at the Biden administration's largest shelter for unaccompanied immigrant children says paramedics were called regularly during her the two weeks she worked there. She said panic attacks would occur often after some of the children were taken away to be reunited with their families, dashing the hopes of those left behind. The conditions described by the volunteer highlight the stress of children who cross the U.S.-Mexico border alone and now find themselves held at unlicensed mass-scale facilities waiting to reunite with relatives. (U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Rio Grande Valley Sector via AP, File) AP

The Border Patrol picked up a record number of unaccompanied children illegally sent into the United States from Mexico on Wednesday, a sign the border crisis is worsening.

Federal data released Thursday evening said that 834 children were encountered by federal agents on the southern border the day before. Each child was alone and without a parent or guardian, according to a fact sheet shared by the Departments of Homeland Security and the Department of Health and Human Services.

"Biden's open border policy is a disaster," Sen. Tom Cotton, an Arkansas Republican, tweeted in reaction to the news.

That 834 children came across the border in a single day at the height of summer, when it is most dangerous to travel outside amid triple-digit temperatures in southern border states. The phenomenon indicates that the surge in people coming to the U.S. is not a seasonal influx, as President Joe Biden had claimed earlier this year.

Historically, more people attempt to sneak into the country during the spring, before temperatures peak. That the number of migrants encountered along the border has risen through the summer indicates that there are other factors leading them to make the crossing, including horrific conditions in their home countries amid the pandemic and changes to U.S. border policy that walk back hardened measures imposed by former President Donald Trump.

The rise in unaccompanied children coming across the southern border began in February, shortly after the Biden administration commenced. Up until this point, children were sent back to their home countries to avoid filling government immigration facilities during the coronavirus pandemic. Biden announced early on that the DHS would no longer immediately turn away children, as had been the policy since Trump imposed the public health measure in March 2020.

The number of children taken into custody by U.S. border officials has soared since the start of the year, from 5,851 in January, which is equivalent to 189 per day, to more than 9,405 in February, according to Customs and Border Protection data. In March, 18,877 children came over, surpassing the previous record of 11,861 in May 2019. Numbers dropped slightly in April, May, and June to between 300 to 500 apprehensions per day, but they still remained near all-time highs.

Preliminary government data indicates the U.S. will exceed the 19,000 mark for single children taken into custody in July, surpassing the March record. That number does not include children who show up at the border with a family member.

Meanwhile, the total number of migrants showing up at the border is also believed to have hit a new high under Biden. Approximately 210,000 people were stopped at the border in July, the highest number in 21 years. Federal border data for monthly encounters prior to 2000 is not publicly available.

Of the 210,000 total encounters, approximately 80,000 migrants arrived with a family member, putting the number close to surpassing the 88,857 mark set in May 2019.

The 834 encounters on Wednesday, if continued through the month of August, would set the U.S. to take 25,020 children into custody this month alone.

Under previous administrations, children might be held in Border Patrol's jaillike facilities for days to weeks. But because children are being transferred to better facilities maintained by the Department of Health and Human Services within one to two days, immigrant advocates have not publicly criticized the Biden administration as it did the Trump and Obama administration during previous years' surges.


In an effort to speed up releases, the Biden administration lowered the standard for selecting adult sponsors so it can release more children from Border Patrol and keep up with the flow of children arriving. For example, adults who claim children are no longer fingerprinted, which the Trump administration had required.

Original Location: Border Patrol picks up 834 migrant children illegally sent across border in one day, a record

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