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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.

Go deeper

2 hours ago - World

Biden freezes U.S. arms deals with Saudi Arabia and UAE

Trump struck several large arms deals with Mohammed bin Salman (L) and Saudi Arabia. Photo: Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images

The Biden administration has put on hold two big arms deals with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates which were approved in the final weeks of the Trump administration, a State Department official tells Axios.

Why it matters: The sales of F-35 jets and attack drones to the UAE and a large supply of munitions to Saudi Arabia will be paused pending a review. That signals a major policy shift from the Trump era, and may herald sharp tensions with both Gulf countries.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
2 hours ago - Podcasts

Robert Downey Jr. launches VC funds to help save the planet

Robert Downey Jr. on Wednesday announced the launch of two venture capital funds focused on startups in the sustainability sector, the latest evolution of a project he launched two years ago called Footprint Coalition.

Between the lines: This is a bit of life imitating art, as Downey Jr. spent 11 films portraying a character who sought to save the planet (or, in some cases, the universe).

DHS warns of "heightened threat" because of domestic extremism

Supporters of former President Trump protest inside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Photo: Roberto Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images

The Department of Homeland Security on Wednesday issued an advisory warning of a "heightened threat environment" in the U.S. because of "ideologically-motivated violent extremists."

Why it matters: DHS believes the threat of violence will persist for "weeks" following President Biden's inauguration. The extremists include those who opposed the presidential transition, people spurred by "grievances fueled by false narratives" and "anger over COVID-19 restrictions ... and police use of force[.]"