White House says it's working on access to migrant centers

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A family from Honduras sits on the ground after they were smuggled on an inflatable raft across the Rio Grande, in Roma, Texas Saturday, March 27, 2021. Roma, a town of 10,000 people with historic buildings and boarded-up storefronts in Texas' Rio Grande Valley, is the latest epicenter of illegal crossings, where growing numbers of families and children are entering the United States to seek asylum. (AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills)

WASHINGTON – White House press secretary Jen Psaki declined to provide a specific date for when the media will get access to Border Patrol facilities temporarily holding thousands of migrant children seeking to live in the United States, but said Sunday the Biden administration was committed to transparency and “we’re working to get that done as soon as we can.”

More than 16,000 unaccompanied children were in government custody as of Thursday, including about 5,000 in substandard Customs and Border Protection facilities.

Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill have been calling on the administration to open the facilities to the cameras, asserting that the current policy is designed to keep the public from “fully realizing” what is happening at the border.

Republican officials are also blaming the Biden administration for actions they say are leading more people from Central America to seek entry into the United States. “It’s not a crisis, it’s a complete loss of sovereignty down there,” Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said.

Graham recently visited the border and said he saw a facility designed to hold 80 children with about 1,000 in it. He called on the administration to turn away every unaccompanied minor after testing them for “human trafficking abuses.”

“If you don’t, we’ll have 150,000 a month by this summer,” Graham said Sunday.

U.S. authorities reported encounters with more than 100,000 migrants on the southern border in February, the highest since a four-month streak in 2019.

Encounters have averaged about 5,000 people per day throughout March, which would be about a 50% increase over February if those figures hold for the entire month.