The U.S. Department of Homeland Security on Saturday (March 13) ordered an emergency agency that usually responds to floods, storms and other major disasters to help care for a growing number of migrant children arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border.
DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in news release that he would deploy the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) “to help receive, shelter and transport the children” over the next 90 days.
The move signals the scope of a growing humanitarian and political crisis for the administration of President Joe Biden, a Democrat who took office on Jan. 20. The increased arrivals come as Biden has reversed some of the restrictive policies of former President Donald Trump, a Republican.
Unaccompanied minors found crossing the border are transferred by immigration officials to another federal agency, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). But a spike in children arriving without parents or legal guardians has exceeded shelter capacity, which was previously cut by 40% to limit the spread of COVID-19.
Recent drone video showed asylum seeking migrants from Central America waiting to be processed after arriving at a makeshift processing site under the Anzalduas International Bridge in Granjeno, Texas.
Migrants cross illegally into the U.S. from Mexico via the Rio Grande River, then walk about 1.5 to two miles (two to three kilometers) to get to the site, where they are processed and driven by bus to other holding facilities.
(Production: Adrees Latif, Vanessa Johnston)