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Media gets first look inside a migrant holding facility at U.S.-Mexico border

First look inside migrant holding facility
New video from first tour inside Texas holding facility for unaccompanied migrant youth 03:24

Reporters and journalists were allowed into a facility housing unaccompanied migrant children who have sought asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border on Wednesday. The limited access comes after lawmakers from both sides of the aisle pushed the Biden administration for greater transparency.

One network camera was allowed inside one of the facilities located in Carrizo Springs, run by the Department of Health and Human Services. The highly controlled access showed children running and playing games. The facilities appeared to be well equipped.

The images are different from those shown earlier this week at a Customs and Border Patrol overflow facility, which showed crowded conditions and kids sleeping on the floor.

More than 16,000 migrant children are currently in U.S. custody. The Border Patrol said it has encountered about 530 unaccompanied minors every day.

"We've come across children under 10 that have been basically dumped there and gone on. So that takes a toll," Trooper TJ Woods told CBS News' Janet Shamlian as they watched the Rio Grande River flow.

Each day, several migrants who are taken into custody are flown to San Diego, California and El Paso, Texas. Many single adults and some families are then expelled back into Mexico as part of the Trump-era Title 42 policy — which is still in place and allows asylum seekers to be denied during the pandemic.

A migrant mother from Guatemala, who asked not to be identified for safety reasons, was allowed to go through immigration proceedings. She said she paid a smuggler more than $3,000 to get her and her son across the border.

She said she made the heartbreaking decision to leave behind her two other children as she heads to meet relatives in Alabama.

Ruben Garcia, who runs the volunteer organization Annunciation House in El Paso, Texas and Juárez, said he fears what's happening at the border now is only the start.

"When you see the situation unfolding, what keeps you up at night?" Shamlian asked.

"That Title 42 will be changed without planning — because if it's not happening and there is chaos, then one of the accusations is going to be, 'You knew. You knew that this was a very real possibility, and you didn't plan for it,'" Garcia said.

He said there's a bottleneck of tens of thousands of Central American migrants just across the border. The coronavirus pandemic is another concern after more than 100 migrant children in a Texas shelter tested positive for COVID-19 when they came in and had to be isolated in dorms with negative air pressure.

President Joe Biden announced Wednesday that he has tasked Vice President Kamala Harris with leading the White House efforts to tackle the migrant surge at the southern border.

The same day the announcement was made, Harris spoke to "CBS This Morning" in an exclusive interview where she called the surge of migrants a "huge problem." The problem won't be fixed overnight, she said, since "there was a system in place, previously before the last administration that allowed us to process these kids in their country of origin. That was dismantled. We have to reconstruct it."

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