The Debrief with Major Garrett Reports on Unaccompanied Children at the U.S.- Mexico Border


The new administration is grappling with a decades-old problem: how to deal with the surge of migrants at the southern border. With President Biden’s new policy of not turning away unaccompanied minors, the number of children arriving at the border has rapidly increased, up nearly 30% in the last week alone. 

Over 4,200 children are currently being held in overcrowded Customs and Border Protection facilities, and nearly 3,000 have been in CBP custody for longer than the 72 hours required by law. 

Some children in these jail-like facilities meant for adults have described being hungry, taking turns sleeping on the floor, showering once in 7 days, and not seeing the sun. 

Coronavirus precautions in Health & Human Services shelters, which provide medical services, educational resources, and counseling, mean fewer available beds – leaving officials scrambling to find space for unaccompanied minors. 

This week, Major explores the influx of migrant children arriving at the border – what is driving them here, the conditions they face along the perilous journey, what awaits them once they arrive, and the Biden administration’s response to this humanitarian crisis.

The guests on The Debrief this week are:

  • Chad Wolf, former acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security
  • Frank Sharry, founder and executive director of America’s Voice
  • Andrea Leiner, director of strategic planning for Global Response Management
  • Arturo Garino, mayor of Nogales, Arizona
  • Camilo Montoya-Galvez. CBS News immigration reporter
  • Mireya Villarreal, CBS News correspondent

Notable quotes from our guests:

  • On the influx of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border potentially continuing: “You have to remember, January and February are historically low traffic months because of the weather and how cold it gets in the desert,” former acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Chad Wolf told Major. “You get into March, April, May – these are the high traffic months into June historically that we have seen. So we’re not even there yet. So you’re going to see higher and higher numbers.”
  • On apprehensions of children at the border: “What we’ve seen is that in February U.S. border officials along the US Mexico border apprehended nearly 9,500 unaccompanied children, a figure we have not seen since the spring of 2019 when we saw this unprecedented wave of Central American families and unaccompanied minors come to the US Mexico border,” said CBS News immigration reporter Camilo Montoya-Galvez.
  • On the motives behind the children arriving at U.S. ports of entry: Andrea Leiner, a nurse practitioner in emergency medicine who works at the border for an NGO told Major, “Most of the people I met were not people that in any way were trying to game the system. They were people who were trying to survive.”  

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