The Biden administration released photos and video from inside border patrol facilities housing children on Tuesday, as officials face more pressure to provide access to members of the media.
The new images come from two temporary processing facilities in the Rio Grande Valley that are being used to house migrant children who cross the border alone, until they can be transferred to a shelter with better conditions for long-term care.
The photos released by Customs and Border Protection show children – most wearing masks – sleeping on mats with silver emergency blankets in crowded, sectioned-off areas of a Donna, Texas, facility. Other images show them standing in line for food and receiving health checks, while some pictures show storage of things like food and linens.
U.S. law stipulates that children should not be held in CBP care for more than three days, but in recent weeks, hundreds of kids have been there past the legal limit due to a lack of capacity in shelters, which are run by the Department of Health and Human Services.
Biden officials, including Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, have said they are developing a plan to give the press access while still following COVID-19 protocols.
"We are working to provide access to those border patrol facilities when we can do so in a safe manner," Mayorkas told CNN on Sunday.
The videos released Tuesday include scenes from an El Paso, Texas facility, where children are shown getting health checks in an intake area, sleeping on mats and exercising outside. Video from inside the Donna facility shows similar but more-crowded scenes of sleeping areas, plus images of play areas set up for children and border patrol officers working at computers to process cases.
The U.S. is on pace to encounter more people at the border than it has in 20 years, Secretary Mayorkas warned last week.
The DHS Secretary said the U.S. is working on a better system to care for children "as soon as possible" in order to prevent long stays in CBP facilities. Administration officials have also said they’re working to reform the asylum system to prevent overwhelming numbers of people at the border.