Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas will appear before lawmakers this morning at 9:30 a.m. ET in a House committee, where he is expected to face questions about the ongoing influx of migrants at the US-Mexico border.
His appearance before the House Homeland Security Committee comes as the Biden administration struggles to accommodate the growing number of children crossing the US-Mexico border alone against the backdrop of a pandemic that’s strained resources, particularly shelter space.
“We are on pace to encounter more individuals on the southwest border than we have in the last 20 years,” Mayorkas said in a statement Tuesday.
As of Tuesday, more than 300 unaccompanied migrant children had been in Border Patrol custody for more than 10 days, CNN has learned. More than 4,200 minors were in custody, with an average time of 120 hours.
Mayorkas, who is testifying on Capitol Hill for the first time since his confirmation, said the situation at the border was “difficult” and acknowledged that children are not being transferred to US Department of Health and Human Services custody within the three-day legal limit.
Some more background: HHS has not had the capacity to take the number of unaccompanied children encountered at the border, he added. Federal law requires unaccompanied children to be turned over within 72 hours to HHS, which oversees a shelter network designed to house minors.
In February, more than 9,400 unaccompanied children — ranging in ages — crossed the US-Mexico border, according to the latest available data from Customs and Border Protection. That’s up from January and is expected to continue trending upward.
On Tuesday, President Joe Biden discouraged would-be migrants from coming to the United States, telling ABC, “I can say quite clearly: Don’t come.”
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