Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas asked for volunteers to serve the record number of unaccompanied migrant children held in custody along the U.S. southern border.
Mayorkas stated, “Today, I activated the Volunteer Force to support Customs and Border Protection (CBP) as they face a surge in migration along the Southwest Border.”
“You have likely seen the news about the overwhelming numbers of migrants seeking access to this country along the Southwest Border,” he said. “President (Joe) Biden and I are committed to ensuring our Nation has a safe, orderly, and humane immigration system while continuing to balance all of the other critical DHS missions.”
Volunteers would serve with managing property, food preparation, supplies and assisting control rooms.
The request follows many immigration changes by Biden to roll back Trump policies. This included Trump’s Migrant Protection Protocols that kept illegal immigrants in Mexico to await hearings.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also recently changed policy to allow migrant children facilities to operate at 100 percent capacity.
Media have been restricted from accessing the facilities, citing COVID-19 concerns.
More than 3,200 unaccompanied migrant children remain in Border Patrol custody. According to the New York Times, this number has tripled in the past two weeks.
The number includes nearly 1,400 children held past the three-day legal limit. Nearly 170 of the reported migrant children are under 13 years old.
According to agency documents reviewed by CNN on Monday, about 2,600 kids are waiting to be sent to shelters run by the Department of Health and Human Services. Due to social distancing measures put in place because of the coronavirus pandemic, there are only 500 beds available.
Mayorkas led a team of senior Biden administration officials to visit migrant holding facilities last week. The White House said the officials intend to brief Biden about their findings.