- Customs and Border Protection on Tuesday released two videos inside Texas migrant holding facilities.
- The Biden administration has denied journalists access to the facilities where children are held.
- These government-produced and -released videos are among the public’s first glances inside.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
After journalists urged the Biden administration to grant them access to Border Patrol facilities where migrants and children are being held, a government agency produced and posted two videos showing the inside of various Texas holding centers.
On Tuesday, the US Customs and Border Protection released the videos – showing dozens of children held in crowded conditions on the inside of multiple processing facilities in two Texas cities.
The Biden administration has so far prohibited journalists from viewing and entering the facilities. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki on Monday insisted that the administration wants to “make sure the media has access to these sites.” But she did not give a concrete timeline on when journalists would receive access.
In one three-minute video, taken last Friday in an El Paso, Texas, processing facilities, dozens of children rest on gray and blue mats in glass- or plastic-enclosed spaces, clutching foil blankets as they sleep. There are few adults in each space.
That same video features a scene in which dozens of young girls are outside a facility in a giant ring, jumping around with a person who appears to be an adult in the middle leading them.
The children are held in these facilities as they await transfer to other federal agencies. The government is required to transfer migrant children to US Department of Health and Human Services custody within 72 hours, but with the influx of unaccompanied minors coming to the US-Mexico border, nearly 3,000 children have been held beyond that limit, CBS News reported.
A second video, nearly five minutes long and shot last Wednesday, shows children arriving at a Donna, Texas, holding facility. They get off the bus with their possessions in hand in a plastic, transparent bag, which a CBP officer appears to inspect.
“The temporary facility was constructed due to the renovation of the permanent Centralized Processing Center in McAllen, Texas, and augments CBP’s ability to safely process family units and unaccompanied alien children (UACs) encountered and in the custody of the U.S. Border Patrol,” reads a description written by CBP preceding the video.
The government-sanctioned and -released videos also show warehouse areas with shelves stocked with necessities like diapers and food items like granola bars.
Thousands of migrant children are in CBP and HHS custody after fleeing their home countries
Key changes – such as measures to reverse controversial Trump-era policies – have led to thousands of migrants, and many unaccompanied children, to travel to the US-Mexico border from Central America. These migrants are often fleeing persecution, violence, and poverty in their home countries.
According to senior administration officials, CBP had approximately 4,500 unaccompanied minors in holding as of Thursday, while HHS has more than 9,000 children in its care.
The Biden administration has opened up various Border Patrol facilities to house these incoming migrants.
Rep. Henry Cuellar on Monday shared photos of the inside of the Donna, Texas, holding facility on Monday, showing children sitting in makeshift rooms – called “pods” – that are separated by plastic. The photos offered the first glimpse into the facility ongoings under the Biden administration.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki and other Biden administration officials have repeatedly stressed that the influx of migrants at the southern border is not a crisis. Experts generally agree, but fear that a humanitarian crisis is imminent, as Border Patrol agents, for example, struggle to care or provide resources for incoming groups.
Some lawmakers believe the conditions are already indicative of a humanitarian crisis unfolding.
Cuellar, in an interview with ABC News, said the humanitarian crisis is the government “trying to take care of these kids.”
“This administration has all the good intentions. They want to treat the kids in a humane way,” he said. “But their good intentions are being overwhelmed by numbers.”
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