Illegal immigrants detained by the Biden administration at a center in Donna, Texas, are being held in cramped, overcrowded holding cells, new photographs and video footage reveal.
The conditions are reminiscent of the crisis situation in March, when the Washington Post reported that the administration was detaining thousands of minors and unaccompanied children in cells for longer than was legally permissible. The detention facility in Donna is one of the places where migrants apprehended by Customs and Border Protection are processed before either being expelled from the country or released.
Images obtained by Fox News show migrants being held in overcrowded “pods” as they await processing. A Border Patrol source said there are currently 5,300 migrants in custody with 40-60 individuals being held in each pod. Each pod is only supposed to hold 10 people to comply with COVID-19 safety protocols.
Video shows the cramped conditions as well:
Illegal immigration has surged again in recent months, overwhelming communities at the border and leading to calls from local officials for the Biden administration to send additional resources to handle the large number of border crossers.
Border Patrol agents encountered more than 200,000 migrants at the southern border in July, smashing records.
President Joe Biden’s policy is that single adults and some migrant families apprehended by Border Patrol are to be expelled from the United States under Title 42 health protections to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. But according to Fox News, the administration faces difficulties because Mexico refuses to take back certain families with young children.
In some cases, families are released into the U.S. and told to report to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement office at their destination, though not everyone shows up.
Unaccompanied children are transferred to the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services, which currently is taking care of more than 14,000 children and teenagers who if possible will be released to parents or guardians who are already in the United States.
On Thursday alone, more than 800 children were apprehended at the border and 612 of them were released to HHS. “Overall, there was an 8% increase in UAC encounters between May and June, and a 25% increase of migrant family encounters,” Fox News reports.
Many migrants are testing positive for COVID-19, creating concerns that the large volume of people being held together and then released into the country might contribute to the spread of the Delta variant.
Without a change in policy, there is no indication that the surge of illegal immigration will slow down.