More than 4,200 unaccompanied migrant children are being held by US Border Patrol at short-term holding facilities, including “jail-like stations unfit to house minors,” CBS News reports.
Customs and Border Protection is legally required to transfer most unaccompanied children to the Health and Human Services Department’s Office of Refugee Resettlement within 72 hours but nearly 3,000 of the kids have been in custody longer than legally allowed.
The number of children in CBP custody has increased 31% since just last week amid a surge in the number of unaccompanied minors at the border.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has acknowledged the CBP facilities are “no place for a child.”
Surge continues to grow:
The rising total underscores the soaring numbers of unaccompanied minors trying to enter the country.
In February, CBP took nearly 9,500 unaccompanied children into custody. The number has increased this month.
Detained children have told attorneys they have been forced to sleep on the floor, went hungry, only showered once in seven days, and were not allowed to call family members due to overcrowding and poor conditions.
"One of them shared that he could only see the sun when he showered, because you can see the sun through the window," attorney Neha Desai told CBS News.
DHS deploys FEMA;
DHS said it is struggling to deal with the surge and on Saturday deployed officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help process the minors.
"We are working in partnership with HHS to address the needs of unaccompanied children, which is made only more difficult given the protocols and restrictions required to protect the public health and the health of the children themselves,” Mayorkas said in a statement.