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Biden Administration Opening New Facility In Texas To Handle Surge Of Unaccompanied Migrant Children Entering US

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CBS4's Mireya Villarreal has the story.

Video Transcript

KEITH JONES: The latest on the Biden presidency. The Biden administration announced it would open up a new facility in Pecos, Texas to temporarily house a surge in unaccompanied migrant children entering the US. Representatives Carlos Jimenez, Maria Elvira Salazar, and Mario Diaz-Balart, as well as Senator Rick Scott, recently visited the US Mexico border to get a firsthand glimpse at the crisis. Many are being held at a detention center or tent site well beyond the legal three-day limit. CBS4's Maria Villarreal is in McAllen, Texas.

ABRAHAM BARBERI: In between the songs we would share the good news, share the gospel.

MIREYA VILLARREAL: When this migrant camp near the international bridge was shut down by the Mexican government a few weeks ago, pastor Abraham Barberi opened the doors to his bible school and hip hop church in Matamoros, Mexico.

ABRAHAM BARBERI: It's just a temporary shelter. But people started coming into Matamoros, and people who were already here. And we just couldn't say no.

MIREYA VILLARREAL: Schoolrooms are now bedrooms, and this parking lot is now a part-time playground. Everyone here is waiting for a chance to request asylum in the United States.

- This is was one of the main crossing areas where they like to cross, because it's very secluded out here.

MIREYA VILLARREAL: The asylum process is so overwhelmed some are choosing to cross illegally. Sergeant Roger Rich and deputy Ruben Salinas patrol the banks of the Rio Grande River near Mission, Texas. They don't have the authority to detain anyone. Instead, directing them to this border patrol processing facility under a bridge. Walking with the last group we encountered, 10-year-old Jumilla Esteban Rosales, fleeing extreme violence in Honduras. He said God is watching over him. That's why he's not scared.

Unaccompanied minors like Juamilla will end up in shelters until they can be placed with a relative or sponsor. A lot of the families will be bused to a center run by Catholic charities. Roberto is here with his six-year-old daughter, Dulce. They'll go from here to Houston, where they have family. And that's when they'll start working on their asylum cases.

NORMA PIMENTEL: I think that, for them, crossing into the United States is like, please find me, because I need help. That's what they want. They're not running away from anybody. They're saying, help me.

MIREYA VILLARREAL: The Biden administration still will not call this a crisis. Instead, a senior White House official referred to it as a mess they inherited from the previous administration. There are several federal agencies now responding, including FEMA. They've set aside $110 million that will go to local city governments, non-profit organizations, and churches like the one that set up this facility you see right behind me. This is where migrant families can go to get COVID tests, food, and help with their travel plans, before they continue on with their journey. Mireya Villarreal, "CBS News," McAllen, Texas.