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El Paso congresswoman says Biden administration didn’t cause migrant influx at border

EL PASO, Texas -- El Paso's Democratic Congresswoman Veronica Escobar on Sunday pushed back on claims that the Biden administration is responsible for an influx of migrants at U.S-Mexico border.

President Biden announced over the weekend that he is sending the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, to help manage and care for the growing number of unaccompanied migrant children who are in custody along the border. 

CNN reported more than 3,200 were in border patrol custody this past week. Just over 80% of those migrant children were awaiting placement in shelters suitable for minors, but there were only about 500 beds available for them.

Congresswoman Veronica Escobar said she visited a facility in El Paso where 720 children were being held, which was the maximum capacity prior to Covid-19.

"Here's the context that the Biden administration is working in,” Escobar explained. “They are walking into an (immigration) agency that was almost deliberately dismantled and damaged by the prior (Trump) administration."

The congresswoman said when the Biden administration took over, there weren't enough personnel or contracts with licensed facilities to handle the demand.

"They're doing everything they possibly can to shave the amount of time children are in Border Patrol custody,” Escobar said. “The next stop is those shelters, they're trying to move those children out of those shelters and into the arms of their family members."

During the Trump era, Escobar said migrant kids were being held for at least 90 days and she even met some children who had been held for 6 months or a year. According to Escobar, Biden has shaved that down to between 30 and 35 days in shelters.

Escobar said right now the Biden administration is, however, still holding children in Border Patrol custody for more than the legal limit of 72 hours.

Because of this, Border Patrol agents are trying to take kids outside for fresh air - but Escobar said it's less than an ideal situation. The area outside has no shade structures, it’s rocky and hard for kids to play in, she indicated.

According to Escobar, the Trump administration didn't want to reimburse local communities for virus testing and quarantining of migrants. The Biden administration on the other hand does, but there's a catch: The governor of each state has to approve it and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has rejected the funding.

"Not only did he reject that funding,” Escobar noted, “but then he turned around and went on Fox News and other cable networks and said immigrants are bringing disease like Covid into our country -- fuelling racism and xenophobia." 

The congresswoman said the immigration system hasn't changed in decades and now is the time for Congress to step up to the plate and fix the broken process. 

On the other side of things, U.S. House GOP leaders are set to visit the border this coming week as they claim the Biden administration is creating a security and humanitarian crisis through lax immigration policies.

Article Topic Follows: Border

Rachel Phillips

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