“A 2008 Bush-era law passed with bipartisan support generally requires all government agencies to transfer unaccompanied minors to the U.S. refugee office within three days of taking them into custody. That process was largely suspended by the Trump administration last March, when it invoked a little-used public health law to start expelling most border-crossers, including unaccompanied minors, to Mexico or their home countries without a court hearing or an asylum interview.
The Biden administration continues to rely on the public health authority to expel most single adult migrants and families with children, but it made a policy decision to shield unaccompanied minors from the expulsions following a court ruling allowing the practice.
The HHS official said the Biden administration is fully aware of the current situation at the southern border and the “humanitarian concerns” of processing migrant children, noting the government is trying to mitigate the “damage as much as possible.” “They have a right to seek humanitarian protections and asylum,” the official said of migrant children.
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