The immigration policy of United States President Joe Biden has draw criticism on Monday after a series of pictures emerged of a crowded detention facility housing migrant children.
Representative Henry Cuellar, a Democrat from Texas whose district is on the US-Mexico border, made the pictures public on Monday. The photos show migrant children, who had crossed into the US alone without a parent or guardian, being held in crowded rooms with mattresses on the floor surrounded with clear plastic at a detention facility in Texas.
Cuellar in byte to Axios said the children were being held under “terrible conditions” at a makeshift facility in Donna, Texas, made up of tents. He said the facility consists of “pods” that can hold up to 260 people. Cuellar said one particular pod housed 400 boys.
“We have to stop kids and families from making the dangerous trek across Mexico to come to the United States,” Cuellar told Axios. “We have to work with Mexico and Central American countries to have them apply for asylum in their countries.”
The White House sought to dispel the criticism on Monday.
“These photos show what we’ve been long saying, which is that these border patrol facilities are not places made for children,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said during a news conference on Monday. “They are not places that we want children to be staying for an extended period of time.”
“Our focus now is on solutions,” she said.
When Biden took office two months ago, he vowed to do away with his predecessor’s hardline stance on immigration. He blasted former President Donald Trump’s so-called zero-tolerance policy, which separated migrant families, and he lambasted procedures that included holding children in “cages“.
Biden stopped forcing asylum seekers to wait for their court dates in Mexico and halted the construction of a border wall along the nation’s southern border.
According to data collected by the Pew Research Center, 18,945 migrants were apprehended at the border in January and February, an increase of 168 percent. And 9,297 unaccompanied minors were apprehended at the border, a 63 percent increase.