Surge in unaccompanied migrant children enter the U.S.

The Biden Administration is facing a surge of migrants entering the country, some illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. Mireya Villareal reports from the border town of McAllen, Texas.

Video Transcript

JERICKA DUNCAN: Today, the Biden administration announced it would open a new facility in Pecos, Texas to temporarily house a surge in unaccompanied migrant children entering the United States. Now, this group of families and children were stopped in La Joya, Texas by border patrol agents after crossing the Rio Grande River. Many are being held at detention centers and tent sites well beyond the legal three-day limit. Maria Villarreal is at the border town of McAllen, Texas with more.

ABRAHAM BARBERI: In between the songs we would, you know, 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--


MIREYA VILLARREAL: --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, you know, into Matamoros. And people who were already here. And we just couldn't, you know, 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.

- So this is one 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 Jualmil Estaban Rosales, fleeing extreme violence in Honduras.

MIREYA VILLARREAL: He said God is watching over him. That's why he's not scared. Unaccompanied minors like Jualmil will end up in shelters until they can be placed with a relative or sponsor. A lot of the families will be bussed 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.

- I think that for them, crossing into United States is like, please find me because I need help, you know? That's what they want. They don't-- they're not running away from anybody. They're saying, help me.

MIREYA VILLARREAL: The Biden administration is still not calling 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 have set aside $110 million dollars that will go to local city governments as well as nonprofit organizations and churches like the one that actually runs this facility right behind me. This is where migrants can get COVID tests, get food, and help with their travel plans before they continue on with their journey. Jericka?

JERICKA DUNCAN: Mireya Villarreal, we thank you for that reporting in McAllen, Texas.