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Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

President Biden is preparing for his own crisis at the U.S. border, with 5,000 migrant children and counting: The number of unaccompanied minors trying to cross is rising while coronavirus distancing requirements have cut by half the number of useable beds in government shelters.

Driving the news: Two administration officials tell Axios plans are underway to open an overflow shelter in Carrizo Springs, Texas, which could house another 700 children in its main building under COVID-19 precautions.

  • This comes as Biden is set to unveil his own immigration and border policies this week, beginning Tuesday, and undo much of his predecessor's hardline approach.

Why it matters: The Trump administration was lambasted for its extended use of the temporary shelters and so-called "tent cities" when holding facilities were overwhelmed during the migrant crisis in 2019. Biden's rhetoric and intentions differ, but that doesn't change his challenge: when apprehensions rise and space runs out, the options are limited.

  • Temporary shelters are controversial because they aren't subject to the same state licensing and monitoring of the long-term facilities, experts say.
  • The Texas site can accommodate tent-like facilities in case of a surge. The senior official said children at the influx shelter will receive education, medical and mental health care and all of the other services that they would in other shelters.

Details: By law, border officials have only 72 hours to transfer migrant children to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services shelters, which can be difficult when numbers surge. One official said in anticipation of that scenario, HHS will notify Congress it intends to use Carrizo Springs.

  • There are currently about 5,000 children in HHS' care.
  • The number is still safely below normal capacity — and far below the 2019 crisis levels when the monthly, average shelter population reached 14,000. But it's about twice the number compared to late November.
  • Meanwhile, coronavirus precautions have cut the available beds by about half.
  • Sunday, there were 260 referrals of children to shelters, according to one internal report reviewed by Axios. That’s not far off the 294 average at the peak of the child migrant crisis in June 2019, according to public agency data.

Biden's team may face added scrutiny because of the Trump administration's handling of child immigration issues. One administration source told Axios, "The new leadership is so afraid of making any decision because of optics."

Flashback: In November, a court order blocked border officials under the Trump administration from using an order by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to quickly expel migrant kids who cross the border.

  • The uptick in child migrants is at least partly due to the impact that order had.

What's next: Despite a Friday court ruling that would allow the Biden administration to revert to fast-track expulsions of migrant children begun under Trump, a senior administration official said there are no plans to do so.

Go deeper

New York AG alleges "significant evidence" of Trump Organization fraud

Combination images of former President Trump and New York State Attorney General Letitia James. Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images; Scott Heins/Getty Images

New York's attorney general filed a motion Tuesday seeking to compel former President Trump and his two elder children to appear for sworn testimony in her office's civil investigation into the Trump Organization's financial dealings.

Why it matters: Attorney General Letitia James revealed new details in the court filing and a statement on her office's investigation into the Trump Organization's business practices, including a preliminary finding alleging the company used "fraudulent and misleading asset valuations to obtain economic benefits."

2 hours ago - Technology

Ex-N.Y. Post digital chief files lawsuit alleging sexual harassment

Richard B. Levine) (Photo by Richard Levine/Corbis via Getty Images

Former New York Post editor Michelle Gotthelf is suing her former employer, its parent company News Corp. and two editors, alleging she was reprimanded after complaining to senior executives that she was sexually harassed by retired N.Y. Post editor-in-chief Col Allan. The N.Y. Post issued a statement denying any wrongdoing.

Why it matters: "I felt that I owed it to myself and I owed it to the news organization and the people who answered to me," Gotthelf, who was a long time editor at the N.Y. Post, told Axios in an interview.

Updated 3 hours ago - Economy & Business

Airlines warn of flight cancellations amid 5G rollout concerns

Emirates SkyCargo airline Boeing 777F aircraft. Photo: Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Emirates and Delta airlines announced Tuesday that the planned rollout of 5G services at certain American airports could affect flights.

Driving the news: AT&T and Verizon announced earlier Tuesday that they would delay this week's scheduled rollout of 5G signals near a limited number of airports due to continued concerns from the aviation industry.