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By Steve Holland
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Joe Biden has asked senior officials to travel to the U.S.-Mexico border and brief him on the government response to the influx of unaccompanied minors and steps to ensure their safety and care, a White House spokesman said on Thursday.
Biden's administration is facing criticism from Democrats and activists who say unaccompanied migrant children and families are being held too long in detention centers instead of being released while their asylum applications are considered.
For their part, Republicans and immigration hawks complain that the willingness to let in more migrants while their asylum applications are being heard has encouraged more migration from Central America.
“President Biden has asked senior members of his team to travel to the border region in order to provide a full briefing to him on the government response to the influx of unaccompanied minors and an assessment of additional steps that can be taken to ensure the safety and care of these children," White House spokesman Vedant Patel said.
The timing of the visit would remain confidential because of security and privacy concerns, Patel said.
U.S. Border Patrol agents caught more than 4,500 migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border on Wednesday, according to government figures shared with Reuters, a large single-day tally that comes amid growing fears that illegal entries could soar in the coming weeks.
(Reporting by Steve Holland and Jarrett Renshaw; Writing by Mohammad Zargham; Editing by Chris Reese and Peter Cooney)