DONNA, TEXAS - MARCH 30: Minors talk to an agent outside a pod at the Department of Homeland Security holding facility run by the Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) on March 30, 2021 in Donna, Texas. The Donna location is the main detention center for unaccompanied children coming across the U.S. border in the Rio Grande Valley. The children are housed by the hundreds in eight pods that are about 3,200 square feet in size. Many of the pods had more than 500 children in them. The youngest of the unaccompanied minors are kept separate from the rest of the detainees. The Biden administration has just allowed journalists inside its main detention facility at the border for migrant children. It is an overcrowded tent structure where more than 4,000 kids and families are kept in pods, with the youngest kept in a large play pen with mats on the floor for sleeping. (Photo by Dario Lopez-Mills - Pool/Getty Images)
U.S. authorities say they picked up nearly 19,000 children traveling alone across the Mexican border in March. It’s the largest monthly number ever recorded and a major test for President Joe Biden as he reverses many of his predecessor’s hardline immigration tactics. A complex mix of policies and conditions in the United States and Central America is driving the increase. It coincides with the Biden administration’s decision to exempt unaccompanied children from pandemic-related powers to immediately expel most people from the country without giving them an opportunity to seek asylum.