US President Joe Biden is being accused of hypocrisy over his administration's decision to reopen a migrant detention facility for unaccompanied minors.

The facility, located in Carrizo Springs, Texas, will house children between the ages of 13 and 17 who arrive in the US without an adult.

It was previously open for a month in 2019 under the Trump administration, but had been closed since July of that year.

"It's unnecessary, it's costly, and it goes absolutely against everything Biden promised he was going to so," immigration lawyer Linda Brandmiller told The Washington Post, which first reported on the facility's reopening.

"It's a step backward. It's a huge step backward."

The administration argues the move is necessary because of the coronavirus pandemic, which has forced existing facilities for migrant children to cut their capacity.

Shortly after taking office, Mr Biden signed a number of executive orders rescinding his predecessor's immigration policies. As a result, the US is now accepting unaccompanied minors who cross the border with Mexico, and their numbers are increasing.

The Department of Health and Human Services currently has about 7000 minors in custody.

Among those criticising the Carrizo Springs facility's reopening last night was Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

"This is not OK, never has been OK, never will be OK - no matter the administration or party," Ms Ocasio-Cortez said on Twitter.

Half an hour later, she posted a new series of tweets building on the original post, and softening her criticism somewhat.

"Our immigration system is built on a carceral framework. It's no accident that challenging how we approach these issues are considered 'controversial' stances," she said.

"They require reimagining our relationship to each other and challenging common assumptions we take for granted.

"It's only two months into this administration and our fraught, unjust immigration system will not transform in that time. That's why bold reimagination is so important.

"DHS shouldn't exist, agencies should be reorganised, ICE gotta go, ban for-profit detention, create climate refugee status and more."

DHS is the Department of Homeland Security, which houses most of the United States' immigration agencies. One of those agencies is ICE, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which exists to "protect America from cross-border crime and illegal immigration".

The facility's reopening came up during yesterday's White House media briefing. Press Secretary Jen Psaki rejected comparisons between the Biden administration's policies and those of former president Donald Trump.

The Trump administration imposed a "zero tolerance" policy, meaning anyone caught crossing the border would be criminally prosecuted. That stance resulted in minors being separated from their parents.

Mr Trump ended the family separation policy in 2018. However, the government had lost track of many children's parents, and hundreds of minors still remain separated.

In addition, many Democrats - including Vice President Kamala Harris - slammed Mr Trump for putting "kids in cages", referring to the chain-link pens where children were being kept inside immigration facilities.

"You look at the fact that this is a president who has pushed policies that's been about putting babies in cages at the border in the name of security when in fact what it is, is a human rights abuse being committed by the United States government," Ms Harris said as a presidential candidate in 2019.

The "cages" were first constructed and used by the Obama administration.

"Why is the Biden administration reopening a temporary facility for migrant children in Texas?" asked Fox News reporter Peter Doocy asked Ms Psaki yesterday.

"Because of COVID-19 protocols, the social distancing requirements, the capacity of the existing office of refugee resettlement shelters has been significantly reduced. Because of course, you can't have a child in every bed," she replied.

"Our intention is very much to close it, but we want to ensure that we can follow COVID protocols as unaccompanied minors come into the United States."

Ms Psaki insisted the administration was not guilty of rehashing the Trump-era policies Mr Biden and Ms Harris had previously opposed.

"This is not kids being kept in cages," she argued.

"This is a facility that was opened that's going to follow the same standards as other Health and Human Services facilities.

"It is not a replication, certainly not, that is never out intention of replicating the immigration policies of the last administration. But we are in a circumstance where we are not going to expel unaccompanied minors at the border. That would be inhumane."

Originally published as 'This is not OK': AOC scolds Joe Biden


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