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What happens when a migrant child crosses the border

Illustrations: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Since October of last year, border patrol has arrested almost a quarter of a million child migrants who crossed the border alone or with their family, a Customs and Border Protection official told Axios.

Why it matters: The U.S. immigration system is not set up to handle this surge of young migrants mostly from Central American nations — and it's breaking down.

  • Kids are being held beyond the legal time limits in Customs and Border Protection facilities, and the non-profit child shelters overseen by the Department of Health and Human Services are near capacity.
  • There are long wait times, sickness and even child deaths.

By the numbers: In fiscal year 2014, during the child migrant crisis under the Obama administration, 68,541 unaccompanied minors were caught crossing the border.

  • With 4 months left in the current fiscal year, more than 56,000 unaccompanied minors have already been arrested by border patrol, according to CBP data. Tens of thousands of children also crossed with at least one parent during that time — for a total of more than 230,000 children apprehended for crossing the border.

Here's what happens.

Quote “I have stools and benches, but I have no beds. . . . Our facilities are not built for long-term holding, and they’re certainly not built to house children for very long at all.”
— A CBP official told the Washington Post