Biden administration officials declined to call the influx of unaccompanied minors at the southern border a “crisis” on Friday, and said there were no plans to request more money from Congress to increase government capacity to house them. The comments, made during a background call with reporters, come as the administration announced it will end the April 2018 memorandum of understanding between the Departments of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services, which officials said helped create a “chilling effect where family members and sponsors were afraid to come forward for fear of being deported.”
In a joint statement Friday afternoon, DHS and HHS announced a "new Memorandum of Agreement that promotes the safe and timely transfer of children."
"The new agreement does not change safeguards designed to ensure unaccompanied children are unified with properly vetted sponsors who can safely care for them while they await immigration proceedings," the joint release said.
More than 3,700 children are currently in the custody of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, according to CNN. “We are doing our best to get the messaging out that now is not the time to come, that it’s not safe, that people will be turned away,” one official said, when asked when the administration would declare the situation at the southern border a crisis.
“There’s a dysfunctional system that we inherited.” one official said. “There was just a lot of desperation that we’re seeing, that’s just a reality... And so we are addressing that emergency the best way we can.” Asked whether there were plans to request funds from Congress to provide greater access to beds and other resources to better deal with the influx, another official said, “There are no plans for requests at this time.”