"It's going to be very difficult to stop this," the official said.
After children are taken into Border Patrol custody, they're turned over to the Health and Human Services Department, which is charged with the care of migrant children. But amid the coronavirus pandemic, the department has been strained since shelters had until recently been operating under limited capacity.
In recent days, the number of children in HHS custody has also climbed indicating that the department is gradually absorbing the number of children crossing the US-Mexico border alone, taking them out of Border Patrol facilities and into shelters where they can be cared for.
There are around 8,800 unaccompanied for children in HHS custody, the department confirmed Thursday, up from last week when numbers hovered around 7,700.
But the administration still has to keep up with the accelerated pace of apprehensions on the border.
The administration is racing
to house migrant children as President Joe Biden's approach to immigration faces a critical early test. The President entered office vowing to reverse what he cast as cruel policies put in place by President Donald Trump that made it difficult for people fleeing poverty and violence to come to the United States. Now, Biden is working to strike a balance between promoting a more humane approach to immigration while still sending the message to would-be migrants not to come.
At the peak of the 2019 border crisis -- when there were overcrowded facilities and children sleeping on the ground -- there were around 2,600 unaccompanied children in Border Patrol custody, a former CBP official previously told CNN