There are more than 5,000 unaccompanied children in US Customs and Border Protection custody, according to documents obtained by CNN, up from 4,500 children days earlier.
The growing number of unaccompanied children at the border is adding greater stress to the system and has overwhelmed resources, which had already been strained as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
The latest update comes as the Biden administration races to devise solutions to address the evolving situation on the US-Mexico border – which the administration is not calling a crisis – including scaling up capacity to house unaccompanied children and speeding up the process that would allow them to move out of the government’s care more quickly.
There are more than 600 children who have been in custody for more than 10 days, documents show. Federal law requires unaccompanied children to be turned over within 72 hours to the Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees a shelter network designed to house minors, but amid constraints related to the pandemic, children are staying in custody for longer than the 72-hour limit.