RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas (KVEO) — Customs and Border Protection (CBP) held a phone conference on Wednesday to give an update on the organization’s operations.
Officials acknowledged that while the Biden Administration is allowing for more lenient treatment of migrant crossings, they are not opening it completely to anyone who passes through.
“Let’s be clear, the border is not open,” said Troy Miller, Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Commissioner of CBP. “We are building an orderly immigration system and doing so in a way that protects public health during the global COVID pandemic.”
Miller said they are working quickly to reform the immigration system and process any individuals who may need to cross into the U.S. after the rescindment of the Migrant Protection Protocol (MPP). However, he said that this process will take time.
CBP continues to see an increase in migrant crossings.
In February, CBP encountered 100,441 individuals illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. This is a 28 percent increase from January.
This includes 29,792 unaccompanied children, three thousand of which were under the age of 12.
Miller stated that when these children are detained, they are put at the front of the line for processing and later turned over to the Office of Refugee Resettlement. The CBP official did not reveal how long these children are detained for as he said it is a “law enforcement-sensitive” subject.
While officials would not state the average time children are kept in their facilities, they did note that they work to process the minors in a quick manner.
“Border Patrol stations are not places for children,” said Lise Clavel, CBP Chief of Staff. “We do everything in our power to move them through as quickly as we can… Even a few hours in custody is more than what we want for children.”
Miller went on to say that while they have migrants in their custody, they do welfare checks on the migrants’ health, provide meals, showers, cots, and a recreation area to properly take care of the people.
One thousand MPP eligible migrants were moved across the border by Border Patrol at three ports along the border: Brownsville, El Paso, and San Ysidro.
These migrants are made to go under COVID-19 testing and screening before they are allowed to enter the United States.
Anyone who is deemed a threat to the public is not allowed to cross.
CBP officials have also encountered more drug interceptions across the nation.
Drug seizures increased 50 percent in February from January, methamphetamines increased 40 percent, and heroin increased 48 percent. However, cocaine decreased 13 percent, and fentanyl decreased 17 percent.
Agents have also encountered counterfeit COVID-19 supplies such as masks, test kits, and medications. More than 30 million face masks, 300 thousand hand sanitizers, 177 thousand test kits, 38,000 Hydroxychloroquine medicine tablets, 37 thousand antivirus lanyards, and 6,000 tablets of antibiotics were seized by CBP agents.
“The work CBP does ensures that dangerous counterfeit products do not put anyone’s life at risk,” said Miller.
Miller states that more than eight thousand CBP officials have contracted COVID-19 over the course of the pandemic and 28 employees have died from the virus. Officials are working to vaccinate their employees.
The CBP officials believe the COVID-19 pandemic and economic turmoil in other nations is causing an influx of migrants flocking to the United States for a better way of life. CBP is working to revamp its system to allow these people to be processed more accordingly.
“Our immigration system was decimated over the last four years,” said Clavel. “Legal avenues for migrating were cut drastically so we’re starting from square one here to build an orderly immigration system that treats people humanely.”
CBP officials will continue to routinely create a transparent view for the public to view their operations with more press conferences in the future.