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The U.S. has another growing child migrant crisis on its hands

A pile of toys and small shoes in front of a chain link fence near the border.
Security personal stand before shoes and toys left at the Tornillo Port of Entry, June 2018. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

The number of migrant children in U.S. custody has surged to more than 13,000, nearing a record high, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

Why it matters: Close to 18,000 unaccompanied migrant children have been caught illegally crossing the border in just the past two months. The network of nonprofit shelters that house migrant minors until Health and Human Services releases them to family members or other sponsors is nearing maximum capacity.

  • These shelters are already plagued with scandal. In the past, shelters that were quickly opened due to overcrowding resulted in insufficient background checks for personnel and put kids at risk of health and safety dangers, according to the Chronicle.
  • Last year —in the face of a record-breaking numbers of migrant kids in its custody —the U.S. was forced to build a "tent city" in Tornillo, Texas to hold hundreds of migrant children. It closed just earlier this year after the child migrant population fell.

The bottom line: U.S. government agencies charged with implementing immigration policies, protecting the border, detaining immigrants and caring for migrant children are overwhelmed and struggling to handle the surge of migrant families and children crossing the southern border.