The immigration US President Joe Biden’s policies continued to draw criticism on Monday after a series of images came out of a crowded detention center housing migrant children.
Representative Henry Cuellar, a Democrat from Texas whose district is on the US-Mexico border, released the photos to the public on Monday. The photos show migrant children, who entered the United States on their own without a parent or guardian, held in crowded rooms with mattresses on the floor surrounded by clear plastic at a detention center in Texas.
The photos also showed that each room contained a TV screen.
Cuellar said Axios that the children were being held in “terrible conditions” at a makeshift tent facility in Donna, Texas. He said the facility consists of “pods” that can accommodate up to 260 people. Cuellar said that one capsule in particular housed 400 boys.
“We need to prevent children and families from making the dangerous journey through Mexico to come to the United States,” Cuellar told Axios. “We have to work with Mexico and the countries of Central America to get them to seek asylum in their country.”
The White House sought to dispel criticism on Monday.
“These photos show what we have been saying for a long time, which is that these border patrol facilities are not places for children,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said at a conference. press Monday. “These are not places where we want children to stay for an extended period of time.”
“We are now focusing on solutions,” she said.
When Biden took office two months ago, he vowed to end his predecessor’s tough stance on immigration. He lambasted former President Donald Trump’s so-called zero-tolerance policy, which separated migrant families, and lambasted procedures that included the detention of children in “cages“.
Biden stopped forcing asylum seekers await their court dates in Mexico and halted construction of a border wall along the country’s southern border.
But Biden now faces mounting criticism over his own handling of a wave of migrants bound for the United States.
According to data collected by the Pew Research Center, 18,945 migrants were apprehended at the border in January and February, an increase of 168%. And 9,297 unaccompanied minors were apprehended at the border, an increase of 63%.
Republican Leaders say Biden is to blame for the new wave of migrants arriving at the US-Mexico border, creating a crisis situation that threatens US security.
The Biden administration argues that the United States is still deporting asylum seekers to Mexico under Title 42 – a Trump-era provision that cited the coronavirus pandemic as the reason for allowing the rapid deportation of migrants.
They also deny that a crisis is brewing.
“Children who show up at our border, who flee violence, who flee prosecution, who flee terrible situations are not a crisis,” Psaki said Monday.
“We believe it is our responsibility to approach this situation with humanity and to make sure that they are treated and put in safe conditions,” she said.
Biden officials also continued to call on migrants not to come, saying the United States will soon put in place a system that will allow asylum seekers – especially from Central America – to file their claims from their home countries. original.
The Biden administration has also faced scrutiny over its refusal to allow outside observers or the media to enter the facilities where it detains thousands of immigrant children.
“We definitely want to make sure that the media have access to these sites,” Psaki said.
“We are working with the Department of Health and Human Services and also the Department of Homeland Security to ensure confidentiality and ensure that we are following COVID protocols,” she said.
She added that the Biden administration had implemented communications campaigns announcing that the U.S. border was closed to migrants and added that the U.S. government was committed to funding development programs that would target the root causes of the immigration.