July 29, 2021

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Facing Pressure, Biden Administration Scrambles to Shelter Migrant Children – The New York Times

2 min read

Republicans are framing the situation as a crisis of Mr. Biden’s making, signaling an aim to use his immigration agenda as a political weapon against him in 2022. Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the minority leader, is planning to lead other Republicans on a trip to the border to highlight the issue. Representative James R. Comer, Republican of Kentucky, on Wednesday called the increase in migration a signal “to the world that our immigration laws can be violated with little, if any, consequence.”

Mr. Biden, however, has continued to use a Trump-era rule to rapidly turn away most migrants at the border, with the exception of unaccompanied minors. The administration last week directed the shelters designed to hold the children to return to their normal capacity, despite the coronavirus pandemic.

In the scramble to find additional space for the children, the Biden administration is considering housing them at unused school buildings, military bases and even a NASA site, Moffett Federal Airfield in Mountain View, Calif., according to a memo obtained by The Times. The NASA site would “remain unoccupied but available for use if H.H.S. has an urgent need for additional shelter space,” the memo said.

Darryl Waller, a spokesman for NASA, confirmed in a statement that the administration was considering sheltering migrant children at “currently vacant property” at the site. “This effort will have no impact on NASA’s ability to conduct its primary missions,” he said.

The Health and Human Services Department did not respond to requests for comment.

Mr. Biden campaigned on a more humane approach to immigration at the border, one that would prioritize investing in Central America to deter illegal immigration. But it has had the effect of drawing those fleeing poverty and persecution who see a better chance to enter the United States than they had under the Trump administration.

“One of the things I think is important is we’ve seen surges before,” Ms. Jacobson said. “Surges tend to respond to hope. And there was a significant hope for a more humane policy.”

One part of the Obama administration’s response was creating the program that allowed Central American children to apply for protection from their home countries.

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