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Rep. Filemon Vela (D-Texas). Photo: Ting Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Rep. Filemon Vela, a Texas Democrat and early supporter of President Biden, is urging the White House to adopt a short-term solution to the migration surge in his district: turn away older teenagers.

Why it matters: It's another indication the current situation at the U.S.-Mexico border isn't politically or logistically tenable — especially for the people living there.

  • “There is no perfect fix here,” said Vela, who announced his retirement on Tuesday. “However, we are in the middle of a pandemic, and our systems are being overwhelmed.
  • “One logical approach to this situation would be to return the older teenagers to their home country, and provide funding for an effort supervised by the United Nations to properly care for those teenagers upon their return.”
  • Rep. Henry Cuellar, another Texas Democrat with a border district, told Axios it's something the administration at least “needs to have a conversation among themselves about,” especially given the high percentage of kids crossing the border who are 16 and 17 years old.

Between the lines: Vela didn't specify what he meant by “older teenagers,” but discouraging some of them from crossing the border could serve to test support for an adapted White House approach.

  • This month, the White House considered extending public health restrictions known as Title 42 to 17-year-olds, according to Buzzfeed News.

By the numbers: About 55% of almost 5,000 minors held by U.S. Customs and Border Protection are aged 16 or 17, according to the latest data.

  • Some 823 unaccompanied migrant children have been held in Border Patrol custody for over 10 days, according to an internal Department of Homeland Security document obtained by Axios.
  • As of Saturday, 3,314 unaccompanied children had been in custody longer than 72 hours — the legal limit for how long a child is supposed to be held by CBP.
  • Nearly 2,900 unaccompanied minors tested positive for COVID-19 on arrival at U.S. government shelters over the past year — including about 300 currently in the system, Axios reported Wednesday.

A delegation of White House officials and lawmakers visited a Department of Health and Human Services overflow facility for minors in Carrizo Springs, Texas, on Wednesday.

  • Rep. Norma Torres (D-Calif.), who was on the tour, told Axios: "The answer is exactly what they are trying to do right now, and that is to build up capacity in the region, with safe houses, shelters where these young people can present themselves."
  • Biden also announced Wednesday he was tapping Vice President Kamala Harris to handle the migrant surge at the southern border, as well as to work with Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador to address the problem at its start.

Don't forget: Former President Trump essentially shut down the border under a public health argument around the pandemic, by invoking Title 42 emergency restrictions.

  • Biden isn’t applying Title 42 to unaccompanied minors, which critics say is driving people northward.

Go deeper

Everyone wants to be an influencer

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The number of people looking to become online influencers has exploded during the pandemic.

Why it matters: Almost anyone can find themselves in a position to become an influencer, and brands are throwing billions of dollars at online content creators.

At least 3 dead after Amtrak train derails in Montana

Photo: Jacob Cordeiro/Twitter

An Amtrak train derailed near Joplin, Montana, resulting in at least three deaths and multiple injuries to passengers and crew on Saturday, per authorities and a company statement.

The big picture: 141 passengers and 16 crew members were estimated to be on the Empire Builder train, traveling from Chicago to Seattle and Portland, when eight of the 10 cars derailed about 4p.m., Amtrak said early Sunday.

Updated 10 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Federal judge blocks vaccine mandate for NYC teachers

Students are dismissed from the first day of school at PS 133 in Brooklyn on Sept. 13. Photo: Michael Nagle/Xinhua via Getty Images

A federal appeals court is set to hear a challenge Wednesday to a vaccine mandate planned for New York City school employees.

Why it matters The vaccine mandate was set to begin on Monday, prompting concerns over staffing shortages in schools across the nation's largest school system. But a judge on Friday temporarily blocked the measure, per AP.