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The U.S. government is holding about 15,500 unaccompanied migrant children as of Saturday, according to government data. More than 5,000 unaccompanied children were being held in U.S. Customs and Border Protection custody in tent facilities in south Texas and other stations along the border. The Department of Health and Human Services is holding the other 10,500 children in emergency housing facilities and shelters licensed to care for minors, a spokesperson said. Government records show these children spend an average of 136 hours in CBP custody, over the 72-hour limit. During February, more than 9,400 unaccompanied children entered the U.S. CBS News
In other national immigration news…
Asylum Seekers in San Diego Want Answers from Biden
The Biden administration is urging Mexican and Central American migrants to not head north as it tries to dismantle the Trump administration’s immigration policies. But many asylum seekers living in tents next to the San Diego-Tijuana border do not find this message useful. They’ve been waiting for months and years for the Trump administration’s policies to change. Among them are 1,500 people living and waiting in Tijuana’s Chaparral plaza. One Honduran woman there said she has been waiting in Mexico for over a year, facing hunger and violence with no indication she will be allowed into the U.S. anytime soon. San Diego Union-Tribune
GOP Sen. Tom Cotton Wants Trump’s Border Policies Back
On Sunday, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) accused President Joe Biden of allowing a rush of migrants into the U.S. and claimed the border is “wide open.” Cotton said on Fox News Sunday that Biden demolished “highly effective” Trump policies that secured the U.S.-Mexico border, and that those measures should make a comeback. He also criticized Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, who defended the administration for not removing unaccompanied migrants. “He’s basically saying the United States will not secure our border and that is a big welcome sign to migrants from across the world,” said Cotton. Politico
Sick ICE Detainee Died Three Days After Release
Martin Vargas, a detainee at the Adelanto Immigration and Customs Enforcement processing center, had been dealing with COVID-19 and other health issues when immigration officials told his attorney they were considering his release. Margaret Hellerstein, his attorney, was not told where he went after his release and was worried that he was living on the street. After she filed a missing persons report, she discovered that Vargas had a stroke March 3 and died at a hospital three after his release. An ICE spokesperson said the agency “does not comment on pending litigation” and declined answering questions about Vargas’ detention and release. Los Angeles Times
Attorneys Working to Make Sure Migrant Children Know Their Rights
Roberto Reyes-Perez virtually meets with migrant children in federal shelters every day to explain their rights. He is a staff attorney for the South Texas Pro Bono Asylum Project, a Texas-based legal advocacy group that ensures migrant children at the border are receiving legal advice to navigate the immigration system. Most migrant children, many of them in federal custody, would go without legal counsel without the pro bono assistance. Some of them are as young as 3 years old and are expected to explain in court why they are seeking asylum. Over the last year, lawyers and legal advocates have shifted to Zoom to prepare children for immigration court. USA TODAY
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