CBP's COVID Restrictions Are Going Out the Window. Here's Why.

Posted: Mar 06, 2021 2:45 PM
CBP's COVID Restrictions Are Going Out the Window. Here's Why.

Source: AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, Pool

The number of unaccompanied minors that are flocking to the United States-Mexico border has overwhelmed Customs and Border Protection resources. The surge is so great that the Centers for Disease Control is waiving previous Wuhan coronavirus rules, which said housing facilities could only operate at 50 percent capacity.

The CDC cited "extraordinary" circumstances that would cause them to waive the social distancing rules, saying "facilities should plan for and expect to have COVID-19 cases" because there is nothing that can be done to ensure "there is no 0% [transmission] risk."

"Additional shelter capacity will minimize the likelihood that children remain in Border Patrol stations longer than necessary, where they are also exposed to COVID-19 transmission risks as well as child welfare concerns associated with such settings," the memo stated, according to CNN. "Overcapacity at Border Stations poses a greater infection risk to children than [Office of Refugee Resettlement] program sites that may operate at full licensed capacity with comprehensive COVID-19 mitigation measures in place."

The order removes the capacity limitations, meaning the number of beds will increase from roughly 8,000 to a little more than 13,000, CBS News reported. As of now, roughly 8,000 unaccompanied minors are in Customs and Border Patrol custody. 

The CDC memo suggests other mitigation efforts be implemented, like the wearing of masks, social distancing, cleaning and disinfection, improved ventilation, testing, and vaccines for those over the age of 16.

The Department of Health and Human Services recently reopened an overflow holding facility in Texas. It was dubbed the administration's "first migrant child facility," a stark contrast from the "kids in cages" talking point that was used under the Trump administration. 

It's important to note this policy that prevents kids from ending up in ICE facilities was established under Barack Obama. The reason Border Patrol agents separate family units is so agents can determine whether or not the adults and children are actually related.