The White House is now flying unaccompanied minors across the country to emergency housing facilities as it struggles to keep up with the thousands of child migrants flooding across the United States southern border — and Iowa’s Republican governor is now the first to refuse the Biden administration’s pleas to provide temporary housing.
Late last week, Republican Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds “said she has rejected a federal request to accept migrant children into the state, saying the need to find homes for them ‘is the president’s problem,’” per The Associated Press.
“This is not our problem,” Reynolds said, adding that the state does not have any temporary facilities to lend to the Department of Housing and Human Services. “This is the president’s problem. He’s the one that has opened the border, and he needs to be responsible for this and he needs to stop it.”
Iowa’s own Department of Human Services, it seems, made the decision, based on whether the state was equipped to respond to both local and federal needs amid a significant economic downturn and the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This is due to limited resources and administrative concerns. We have an obligation to take care of our children first and absent the resources or a clear and comprehensive plan for federal support, we were unable to accommodate the request,” Iowa’s director of Human Services said in a statement to the White House. “We acknowledge this is an incredibly saddening and difficult situation.”
The Associated Press notes that unaccompanied minors who cross the border are held for a short time in federal detention facilities and then released to “sponsors” within the United States, but at present, the federal government is believed to be holding as many as 15,500 child migrants, with hundreds more coming across the border every day. In March alone, nearly 20,000 children were taken in by Customs and Border Protection, and that number is only expected to grow.
To cope with the overflow, the Biden administration is now reportedly flying children across the country to non-border states, as they run out of space on the border. The Biden administration has already opened 11 overflow facilities in border states.
“The Biden administration will soon open an emergency facility in the northern border state of Michigan to hold children who come over the southern border without parents, a move that will require flying young children across the country,” the Washington Examiner reported. “The Department of Health and Human Services Office of Refugee Resettlement will stand up an emergency intake center in Albion, Michigan, to house up to 240 children who are age 12 and under.”
“While HHS’ Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) has worked to build up its licensed bed capacity, additional capacity is urgently needed to manage the increasing numbers of [unaccompanied child] referrals from [Customs and Border Protection],” the agency said in a statement announcing the plan.
The Washington Examiner points out that CBP has requested Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) planes in order to “transport people deeper into the country.” At the time, the planes were being used solely for deportations.
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Author: Emily Zanotti