Attributable to Andrew Meehan, Assistant Commissioner for Public Affairs, United States Customs and Border Protection:
The care of those in our custody is paramount. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the United States Border Patrol (USBP) are devoted to the care and processing of the individuals in our custody with the utmost dignity and respect. USBP has been transparent for several months by conveying the message both publicly, internationally and to Congress that the immigration system is broken and that they are at critical capacity levels across the southwest border. CBP’s facilities and manpower cannot support this dramatic increase in apprehensions of family units and unaccompanied children. There is no consequence that the USBP can apply to this demographic under current law and court rulings. Border Patrol stations were built in the ‘80s and ‘90s to process hundreds of single adult individuals from Mexico, not hundreds of thousands of family units and unaccompanied juveniles from the northern triangle. USBP temporary holding facilities were simply not designed to process and care for a population of this size and of this demographic. Nearly every sector across the southwest border has exceeded their capacity. This crisis has forced CBP to seek every possible temporary solution to safely house, process, and care for those in custody. This includes contract medical providers onsite full time to address medical issues immediately, blankets and other items to address both hot and cold weather, access to shower facilities, water, and restrooms, basic needs such as hygiene products, three meals a day with additional snacks, and access to telephones. This crisis is so critical, that for the safety of USBP Agents and those in their custody, USBP has begun processing non-criminal family units for immediate release under an order of recognizance based upon the current capacity issues. Additionally, this humanitarian crisis has dramatically impacted the ability to carry out their primary law enforcement mission. Currently, each day nearly 40% of agents on the southwest border are diverted away from our border security mission to care for, transport, and process family units and UACs. DHS is committed to addressing this humanitarian need, but the current situation is unsustainable for Border Patrol operations. This status quo is not an option. The legal framework must be addressed. The only remedy to this crisis is Congressional action.
[Video of the Commissioner’s Press Conference for the February migration numbers]
[Video of the Commissioner’s Press Conference in El Paso, TX]