House Republicans are raising “extreme concern” about the increased number of unaccompanied minors making the dangerous trek to the southern border and are demanding answers from the Biden Administration on whether they are equipped to manage the surge and to care for the children.
Rep. Buddy Carter, R-Ga., and more than 40 fellow GOP House members penned a letter Friday raising questions on how the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is currently managing the thousands of children seeking entry into the United States and how officials are prepared to address a possible bigger surge in the spring months.
“We write to you with extreme concern regarding the increased numbers of unaccompanied children (UC) that have been crossing the border and the care provided to them,” the lawmakers wrote.
“This situation needs to be acknowledged for what it is, a crisis, and we need answers,” the lawmakers continued.
Carter and the GOP reps have requested a briefing with newly-confirmed Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra to learn more about the transport, care and safety of the children.
The Republicans cited reporting from The New York Times that children are sleeping on gym mats in overcrowded Customs and Border Protection facilities without showering and are staying in these processing facilities longer than the 72 hours allowed under federal law, before being transferred to HHS.
The Department of Health and Human Services, which is charged with caring for the children once they enter the United States, did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment on Saturday.
Becerra, 63, was narrowly confirmed by the Senate on Thursday as the new secretary and will be the first Latino to head the department.
Xavier Becerra speaks during his confirmation hearing to be Secretary of Health and Human Services before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021 on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Leigh Vogel/Pool via AP) ((Leigh Vogel/Pool via AP))
The Biden Administration is dealing with a surge of migrants trying to enter the United States. Law enforcement encountered 100,441 migrants at the border in February, according to Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The last time monthly numbers topped 100,000 was in 2019.
A source told Fox News earlier that more than 70% of those encountered were expelled via the Title 42 public health order that allows authorities to quickly return migrants to their country of travel. Activist groups have urged the administration to end Title 42 expulsions, but so far it has not done so.
But the concern remains around the unaccompanied children who cannot be turned away under Title 42 and are allowed entry into the United States as their immigration cases are pending before the courts. The uptick of children has put a strain on the facilities meant to shelter the kids before they can be transferred into the care of a family member or sponsor in the United States.
Of the 100,441 migrants encountered in February, 9% — or 9,457 — were unaccompanied children.
Fox News’ Adam Shaw contributed to this report.