Customs and Border Protection (CBP) requested the plane support from Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Friday after 1,000 migrant families and unaccompanied minors crossed the Rio Grande into South Texas Friday morning, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials told The Washington Post. Border agents still have another 1,000 migrants they were unable to process last night, according to communications reviewed by the Post.
The backups at CBP are exacerbated by the nearly 4,500 unaccompanied children being held in detention centers and tent sites at the border, many beyond the legal three-day limit.
The Biden administration contends that the situation at the border is a "challenge," not a "crisis."
During the record 2019 border surge under President Trump, ICE flew migrants to other border sectors with the capacity to hold them.
That crisis was during the warmer months, and it’s not clear whether CBP will be able to provide warmer clothing for families sent to states like Michigan, South Dakota and Montana. These facilities also have far fewer resources to take in migrants. The email seen by The Post indicates CBP has not yet decided which facilities will take in the migrants.
CBP has already used ICE aircraft to transport migrants from the overwhelmed Rio Grande sector facilities to nearby El Paso.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) said Thursday it will give $110 million to organizations providing food and shelter to migrants at the border.
Most single adult migrants are still being expelled under Title 42, a CDC coronavirus health order, but new numbers show that in February, CBP allowed the majority of the migrant families it encountered on the U.S. southwestern border to stay in the country pending a decision on whether they will be allowed to stay permanently.
In February, there were 19,246 total encounters with migrant families on the southern border. Of those encounters, 7,915 were expelled from the country.
The agency encountered 71,598 total single aliens in February and booted 64,108 of them under the Trump health order.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas is visiting the southern border Friday with a group of senators.
Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., said he "fought back tears" as he visited an overcrowded child migrant facility.
"Just left the border processing facility. 100s of kids packed into big open rooms. In a corner, I fought back tears as a 13 yr old girl sobbbed [sic] uncontrollably explaining thru a translator how terrified she was, having been separated from her grandmother and without her parents," he wrote on Twitter.