President Joe Biden is facing severe backlash from New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Tuesday for reopening a Texas facility to hold unaccompanied migrant children. The Bronx Democrat was reacting to a report that the emergency facility in Carrizo Springs, Texas was being reopened to accommodate up to 700 children between ages 13 to 17.
The center is reopening after the Trump administration utilized it amid the migrant crisis in 2019. Interestingly, the emergency facility is the same place outside of which Vice President Kamala Harris had protested in June 2019. The news raised further questions on how Biden would handle an expected influx of unaccompanied children at the southern border.
Biden, Harris Slammed
Reacting to the report, Ocasio-Cortez tweeted: "This is not okay, never has been okay, never will be okay — no matter the administration or party." She added: "It's only 2 mos into this admin & our fraught, unjust immigration system will not transform in that time. That's why bold reimagination is so impt. DHS shouldn't exist, agencies should be reorganized, ICE gotta go, ban for-profit detention, create climate refugee status & more."
That said, the government said that the facility needed to be expanded because of the coronavirus pandemic. According to a report in the Washington Post, the space in the Texas facility had been cut in half because of the additional space that is being required to adhere to proper social distancing protocols.
Ocasio-Cortez's tweet was soon supported by Rep. Ilhan Omar. "Multiple administrations have made the callous choice to lock up thousands of children seeking refuge in the United States of America. As long as we see people seeking a better life as 'aliens' instead of fellow human beings, our immigration system will continue to fail us," she tweeted.
Biden's Big Plans
According to the Washington Post report, in January, the number of unaccompanied children coming over the border was more than 5,700, a lot higher compared to recent times. However, AOC has a point in lambasting the Biden administration for its decision to extend the facility.
She was also joined by several immigration lawyers and advocates who are now raising the same questions why the government would reopen controversial camps, which have already been criticized for their poor living conditions in the past.
However, the Biden administration isn't stopping here. In fact, it also plans to reopen the Homestead shelter, which Harris protested outside when the Democratic primary candidates had gathered in Miami for the first presidential debate in June 2019.
The White House on the other hand has been defending its decision. A White House spokesperson on Monday told Fox News: "The President's approach is to deal with immigration comprehensively, fairly and humanely. The policy of this administration is not to expel unaccompanied children who arrive at our borders. The Border Patrol will continue to transfer unaccompanied children to the HHS Office of Refugee Resettlement so they may be properly cared for in appropriate shelters, consistent with their best interest."
Biden has been taking several new moves and moving away from the 'law-enforcement focused' on immigration, including releasing a plan that includes a pathway to citizenship. He also recently signed an executive order ordering the Department of Justice to not renew for-profit prison contracts.