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Children Are Sleeping on Mats in Overcrowded Border Facilities

Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas blamed the border crisis on the Biden administration’s immigration policies.

“The Biden administration’s reckless open-border policies have created a humanitarian crisis for unaccompanied minors coming across the border,” he said in a statement. “With no plan in place, the administration has created heartbreaking and inhumane conditions for children who are being held in Texas.”

Despite the current space constraints, immigration groups that have long worked along the border cautioned against describing the situation with a sense of alarm.

Marisa Limón Garza, deputy director of the Hope Border Institute in El Paso, said various factors were contributing to the rising numbers of migrants at several border sites — including the changing of the seasons, hurricanes in Central America and the gradual phasing out of a requirement that many asylum seekers wait in Mexico while their applications are being considered.

“We don’t see this as a crisis,” said Ms. Limón Garza, whose organization has been briefed by administration officials on the treatment of migrant families at border facilities. “Spring is the natural time for migration between the cold of the winter and the heat of the summer. We also know that the Trump administration really did quite a bit of damage within the bureaucracy, so putting that all together, that’s the context we’re in.”

Similarly, Linda Rivas, the executive director at Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center in El Paso, said the uptick this year resembled the migration flows she had seen in seven years as a practicing immigration lawyer, with more people heading north as the spring approaches.

But Ms. Rivas also expressed concern over the challenges the Biden administration faced as it tried to work with an immigration system that the previous administration overhauled with the aim of making it exceptionally difficult to apply for asylum in the United States.

“We would love to see the processing of minor children happen a lot quicker,” Ms. Rivas said. But, she added, “Right now we don’t have an operational asylum system because there’s still a lot of rebuilding to do.”

Erin Coulehan contributed reporting.

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