Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said Sunday that the Biden administration has been expelling adults and families arriving at the U.S. southern border, but that children that are "young, vulnerable" would not be turned away.
The Biden administration's DHS chief says they are working to develop new policies to deal with a growing number of asylum seekers from Central America and Mexico at the U.S.-Mexico border. Mayorkas blamed the Trump administration for dismantling "the orderly, humane and efficient way" of dealing with migrant children.
Mayorkas said Sunday, "we will not expel into the Mexican desert, for example, three orphan children whom I saw over the last two weeks. We just won't do that. That's not who we are."
By Saturday, documents obtained by CNN showed that over 5,000 unaccompanied children were in the custody of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. As CNN reported, that was up from 4,500 just days before.
"I have said repeatedly from the very outset that a Border Patrol station is no place for a child and that is why we are working around the clock to move those children out of the Border Patrol facilities, into the care and custody of the Department of Health and Human Services that shelters them," Mayorkas told CNN.
Federal law only allows unaccompanied children to remain in CBP custody for 72 hours before they must be turned over to HHS, but according to reporting by CNN, over 600 children had been in CBP custody for more than 10 days.
The Biden administration is also facing criticism over a lack of transparency for not allowing the media access to border facilities to show the public the living conditions that these unaccompanied children are faced with, as Politico reported.
DHS Secretary Mayorkas cited concerns over the coronavirus pandemic and allowing a crew of reporters into the area where a crowded border patrol facility would pose a problem. Mayorkas said that DHS is "working on providing footage."
Fox New's Chris Wallace said that it "sounds like an excuse," and suggested one pool reporter and one photographer could be allowed in, to share that footage with other media.
CNN called it "Biden's media blackout" at the border, labeling it the latest part of a pattern where the Biden administration is restricting media access at the border.