Summary List PlacementPresident Joe Biden on Friday said that a facility for young migrants that was recently reopened in Texas was a temporary measure taken by the administration to handle the increased numbers of unaccompanied children that are crossing the US-Mexico border.
The Biden administration has received blowback for the decision from progressive Democratic lawmakers and some on the right.
“Right now there’s thousands of unaccompanied children coming across the border,” Biden said during an interview with Univision. “We’ve been able to place a significant number of them in licensed facilities throughout the country. In Texas, they opened up one … used in the last administration. Our hope and expectation is that won’t stay open very long and that we’ll be able to provide for every kid who comes across the border safely to be housed in a facility that’s licensed.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Tuesday said that the administration needed additional space due to COVID-19 social distancing health measures.
“To ensure the health and safety of these kids, [the Department of Health and Human Services] took steps to open an emergency facility to add capacity where these kids can be provided the care they need before they are safely placed with families and sponsors,” she said.
According to the White House, reopening the facility was a better option that sending the migrant children on a treacherous journey back to their home countries.
More than 2,000 unaccompanied migrants were intercepted by US Border Patrol over the past week, according to The New York Times.
Biden said that his administration is seeking to reunite migrant children with their families.
“Get them to the families that they came here to see or they’re looking for,” he said. “We’ve already connected thousands of them in that way. So that’s our hope, is to unite these children with families while they wait to have a hearing.”
The Carrizo Springs facility, which formerly housed oil-field workers, was repurposed into a holding facility under the administration of former President Donald Trump in 2019, a decision that was widely criticized by Democrats at the time.
Progressive lawmakers, including Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, blasted the administration’s move to reopen the facility.
“This is not okay, never has been okay, never will be okay – no matter the administration or party,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted earlier this week. “Our immigration system is built on a carceral framework. It’s no accident that challenging how we approach both these issues are considered ‘controversial’ stances.”
She added: “It’s only 2 [months] into this administration and our fraught, unjust immigration system will not transform in that time. That’s why bold reimagination is so important.”Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: How waste is dealt with on the world’s largest cruise ship