US authorities detained nearly 19,000 unaccompanied migrant minors at the border with Mexico in March, the highest monthly figure ever recorded, the government reported Thursday. This is a huge test for President Joe Biden in overturning many of the previous administration’s intransigent measures.
The increase is due to a complex combination of factors in the United States and Central America. It coincides with the government’s decision to exempt unaccompanied minors from the rule, related to the pandemic, of expelling people from the country without giving them the opportunity to request asylum. Children are handed over to “sponsors” (sponsors), generally their parents or close relatives, while their cases are processed in the harassed immigration courts.
Authorities found 18,890 unaccompanied children in March, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), well above previous records of 11,475 in May 2019 and 10,620 in June. 2014 reported by the Border Patrol, which began releasing the figures in 2009.
The huge increase in children – some of whom are three years old – traveling alone and in families has put severe pressure on border detention centers, which cannot hold people for more than three days, but they frequently do. The government has been quick to find space and staff to care for the children until they are handed over to their sponsors.
Many believe that a hurricane that struck Central America in November aggravated a situation already affected by endemic poverty and violence that has prevailed for decades. Changes in the measures since Biden took office, whether reality or hearsay, have also affected the decisions of migrants.