Another temporary facility for migrant children. The Pentagon on Saturday approved a request from the Department of Health and Human Services to temporarily house unaccompanied children at Camp Roberts, a Central California training site for the California Army National Guard.
‘There’s trauma, especially in the children’
As the Biden administration scrambles to safely accommodate the record number of migrants arriving at the US-Mexico border, the President has garnered criticism from both sides over his handling of the crisis.
As of Wednesday, there were 4,966 children in Customs and Border Protection custody and 13,204 children in Health and Human Services custody, data released by the government shows.
So what’s driving these record numbers? And was the Biden administration prepared? What will it take to improve the situation?
Why are migrants making the dangerous journey in the first place?
For starters, the coronavirus pandemic has taken a dramatic toll on Latin America, where cases and deaths have soared and economies once projected to grow have been decimated.
But, as Lopez explains, one of the biggest contributors to migration are Central American gangs.
“The biggest thing that we hear is forced recruitment from the gangs where, you know, these criminal enterprises in Central America are trying to recruit them.
And so you either join the gang and join the criminal enterprise and then your life is at risk for that reason, or you refuse to join and then you are threatened because you refuse to join. And so these criminal enterprises really have huge impacts on people’s lives. And as a result of that, they feel like they have no choice but to seek safety somewhere else.”
Biden tasked Vice President Kamala Harris with overseeing efforts with Central American countries to stem the flow of migrants. But the idea of building a better life in the US is strong pull for many migrants.
“You have people that are so desperate to enter the United States that they try to run in front of my car on the freeway, which has happened to me twice in the last week,” Lopez said.
“I had one gentleman that we locked eyes and thankfully he didn’t run in front of the car. And so I kind of slammed on my brakes and then he stopped, hesitated, and I was able to kind of step on the gas and get moving. And so he was able to run behind my car. And then we also have stories of clients who climb this 30 foot wall that we have here along the Southern border and feel like their only choice is to jump. And then they end up in the hospital with broken hips and broken legs. And so, I think it makes it clear that we aren’t doing enough.”
How prepared was the Biden administration?
From its earliest weeks in office, the Biden administration has been playing catch up.
“I think there was no preparation for the number of children. And I think the other complicating factor is that we’re in the middle of a pandemic,”…
Read More: Analysis: Inside the border crisis