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President Biden Takes Steps To Help Border Officials Process Wave Of Unaccompanied Minors

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CBS4's Natalie Brand reports from Capitol Hill.

Video Transcript

- Turning now to the Biden presidency. President Joe Biden took steps over the weekend to help border officials process the wave of unaccompanied minors showing up at the southern border.

- CBS 4's Natalie Brand is on Capitol Hill, where lawmakers are playing the blame game.

NATALIE BRAND: The Biden administration has ordered FEMA to help address the surge of unaccompanied children at the border. Former FEMA administrator Craig Fugate helped manage a similar situation in 2014.

CRAIG FUGATE: This is a humanitarian mission. I don't give a rat's about immigration policy, what's caused this, why it happened. They are here. They're kids. We're going to treat them that way.

NATALIE BRAND: CBS News has learned Border Patrol has 4,200 unaccompanied minors in short-term holding facilities. The law requires them to be transferred to more appropriate facilities within 72 hours, but many children have been there far longer.

JEN PSAKI: None of these Border Patrol facilities are made for children. And we want to move them as quickly as possible into shelters and then into homes.

NATALIE BRAND: A lawyer representing some of the children told CBS News that conditions were so overcrowded that the kids had to take turns sleeping on the floor.

VERONICA ESCOBAR: What we're seeing today is an enormous challenge, and it's unacceptable.

NATALIE BRAND: A group of Republican lawmakers led by House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy is visiting the border today. Republicans blame the new administration for the surge at the border.

KEVIN MCCARTHY: The actions taken by President Biden of why people think they could come here and break the law.

NANCY PELOSI: What the administration has inherited is a broken system at the border, and they are working to correct that.

NATALIE BRAND: The House is expected to debate two immigration bills this week. One would protect dreamers, undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children, and the other would provide legal status for farm workers. Natalie Brand, CBS News, Capitol Hill.

- The Farm Workforce Modernization Act would help workers in the agricultural industry earn temporary status with an eventual option to become a permanent resident. It has bipartisan support in the House. The American Dream and Promise Act would establish a pathway to citizenship for the dreamers, as well as people granted temporary protected status and those with deferred deportations as of January 2020, 2021.