The Biden administration will end a Trump-era policy allowing ICE to collect information on the immigration status of people who come forward to care for unaccompanied migrant children, officials said Friday.
The Homeland Security and Health and Human Services departments announced in a statement that they would end the 2018 agreement and issued a new memorandum that “promotes the safe and timely transfer of children.”
The move comes amid an influx of unaccompanied migrant children at the southern border in U.S. Border Patrol custody. Biden, who pledged to roll back the restrictive policies of the Trump administration, has come under increasing pressure to address the situation at the border.
While most provisions in the 2018 policy were largely limited after subsequent directives, administration officials said it created a “chilling effect” that dissuaded family members and sponsors from coming forward out of fear of deportation.
“Whatever we can do to encourage those family members and sponsors to come forward more quickly we need to be doing,” an official said during a briefing with reporters.
The official said HHS added 200 beds in the past week since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention allowed shelters to return to pre-Covid pandemic capacity.
More than 3,200 unaccompanied migrant children are being housed in Customs and Border Protection holding facilities, NBC News reported Tuesday.
About 9,000 unaccompanied migrant children crossed the border in February overall, according to government data reviewed by NBC News.
The State Department announced Wednesday it is reinstating an Obama-era program that would allow some Central American children to seek to legally enter the U.S. from their home countries.