Around 19,000 unaccompanied migrant minors are in US custody after crossing into the US in March, a record surpassing month that highlights the growing problem at the southern border, according to government data provided to CBS News.
March surpassed the previous all-time monthly high of 12,000 in May 2019. In 2014 and 2019, previous record setting numbers of children crossing into the US put a similar strain on border processing capacity that facilities are facing now.
170,000 people were encountered crossing the border by US Customs and Border patrol agents in March, a 70 percent increase from February. That number far surpasses March 2020 by nearly 6 times. 100,000 of those encountered were single adults, which under the current public health authority are being expelled back to their home country.
Around 53,000 families were taken into CBP custody, with most being able to stay while cases are reviewed, unlike the previous administration that expelled families due to the public health emergency.
5,000 unaccompanied migrant children were in Border Patrol facilities, built for short term stays. The average hold time for youth in Border Patrol custody before being transfered to Health and Human Services was 130 hours in March, well over the 72 hour limit set forth by law.
Another 13,000 unaccompanied youth are being held in emergency housing set up by HHS. HHS is attempting to open at least 10 emergency housing facilities across Texas and California to get more children out of Border Patrol custody.
Carlos Holguín, a lawyer representing migrant children, interviewed several migrant boys this week housed at a former camp for oil workers converted by HHS into a shelter in Midland, Texas. Holguín told CBS News the children described the "perfect storm" of factors that made them travel to the U.S.
"You have the pandemic, the hurricanes and the pent-up demand from the Trump administration for refugee admissions. Then you also have the long-standing push factors: the lack of security and corruption in the region," Holguín told CBS News.