From ‘zero tolerance’ to now: How America’s migrant policies have changed in the Trump and Biden years

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Rebecca Morin, USA TODAY
·7 min read
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A young female minor walks over others as they lie inside a pod for females at the Donna Department of Homeland Security holding facility, the main detention center for unaccompanied children in the Rio Grande Valley run by the US Customs and Border Protection, (CBP), in Donna, Texas on March 30, 2021. - The minors 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 Biden administration on Tuesday for the first time allowed journalists inside its main detention facility at the border for migrant children, revealing a severely overcrowded tent structure where more than 4,000 kids and families were crammed into pods and the youngest kept in a large play pen with mats on the floor for sleeping. (Photo by Dario Lopez-Mills / POOL / AFP)
A young female minor walks over others as they lie inside a pod for females at the Donna Department of Homeland Security holding facility, the main detention center for unaccompanied children in the Rio Grande Valley run by the US Customs and Border Protection, (CBP), in Donna, Texas on March 30, 2021. - The minors 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 Biden administration on Tuesday for the first time allowed journalists inside its main detention facility at the border for migrant children, revealing a severely overcrowded tent structure where more than 4,000 kids and families were crammed into pods and the youngest kept in a large play pen with mats on the floor for sleeping. (Photo by Dario Lopez-Mills / POOL / AFP)

WASHINGTON – Dozens of children on floor mats, covered with Mylar blankets and crowded side-by-side in a holding facility. Families huddled under a bridge as they await processing at the U.S.-Mexico line. And lawmakers standing outside a border facility, spouting their outrage over the conditions.

These scenes, common under the Trump administration, continue to play out as thousands of migrant families, children and adults head to the U.S.-Mexico border in hopes to come to the United States – even as border laws keep changing.

America's policies toward migrants at the southern border kept shifting over the past four years as the U.S. pivoted from former President Donald Trump's rigid immigration views to President Joe Biden's less-restrictive positions. Add to that the increasing numbers of migrants and unaccompanied children coming to the border and the complications of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Trump implemented several hardline immigration policies, including a “zero-tolerance” policy that separated children from parents who crossed illegally through the U.S.-Mexico border. While many of those policies have changed under Biden, the images of families and children at the border continue to be reminiscent of the previous administration and showcase issues the U.S. faces when dealing with immigration policy.

The Biden administration is currently accepting unaccompanied migrant children into the United States, while turning away most adults under a Trump-era policy called Title 42, which allows Customs and Border Protection to expel undocumented migrants to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in holding facilities. But now Mexico isn’t accepting some families back, leading the Biden administration to begin accepting some families with small children.

Here’s how policies on immigration have changed from the last administration to now:

Increase in migrants before Trump inauguration

Trump made immigration a prominent part of his agenda throughout his four years in office. During his 2016 presidential campaign, he often criticized migrants and promised to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. After winning the election, an increase in migrants tried to come to the United States ahead of his inauguration.

A U.S. Border Patrol agent checks birth certificates while taking Central American immigrants into detention on Jan. 4, 2017, near McAllen, Texas.
A U.S. Border Patrol agent checks birth certificates while taking Central American immigrants into detention on Jan. 4, 2017, near McAllen, Texas.
An immigrant ties his shoes after receiving his laces back from the U.S. Border Patrol before being deported into Mexico from Hidalgo, Texas, on March 14, 2017.
An immigrant ties his shoes after receiving his laces back from the U.S. Border Patrol before being deported into Mexico from Hidalgo, Texas, on March 14, 2017.
Immigrants are deported across an international bridge into Mexico on March 14, 2017 from Hidalgo, Texas.
Immigrants are deported across an international bridge into Mexico on March 14, 2017 from Hidalgo, Texas.
On Oct. 19, 2017, a group of people are detained by Border Patrol agents on horseback after crossing the border illegally from Tijuana, Mexico, near where prototypes for a border wall, right, were being constructed in San Diego.
On Oct. 19, 2017, a group of people are detained by Border Patrol agents on horseback after crossing the border illegally from Tijuana, Mexico, near where prototypes for a border wall, right, were being constructed in San Diego.

Trump deploys military

Trump deployed the military to the U.S.-Mexico border in October 2018 because a group of migrants was heading to the United States’ southern border from Central America. The group of migrants, which Trump often referred to as a caravan, were mostly people from Honduras fleeing violence and poverty. As the group made its way up north, it grew in size.

U.S. Army vehicles sit at a military camp under construction at the U.S.-Mexico border on November 7, 2018 in Donna, Texas.
U.S. Army vehicles sit at a military camp under construction at the U.S.-Mexico border on November 7, 2018 in Donna, Texas.
Members of a U.S Army engineering brigade place Concertina wire around an encampment for troops, Department of Defense and U.S. Customs and Border Protection near the U.S.-Mexico International bridge, Sunday, Nov. 4, 2018, in Donna, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Members of a U.S Army engineering brigade place Concertina wire around an encampment for troops, Department of Defense and U.S. Customs and Border Protection near the U.S.-Mexico International bridge, Sunday, Nov. 4, 2018, in Donna, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
U.S. Army tents stand at a new military camp under construction at the U.S.-Mexico border on Nov. 7, 2018 in Donna, Texas.
U.S. Army tents stand at a new military camp under construction at the U.S.-Mexico border on Nov. 7, 2018 in Donna, Texas.

Asylum policy changes

In November 2018, Trump implemented a policy that barred migrants from claiming asylum if they entered the United States between border checkpoints. The policy went against U.S. and international law, which says migrants are allowed to seek asylum regardless of whether they do it at an official checkpoint or not. Although initial court rulings allowed the policy to continue in some states, a federal court in September 2019 blocked the policy nationwide.

‘Zero tolerance’

In April 2018, the Trump administration implemented a “zero-tolerance” policy that separated children from their parents who were seeking asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border in an effort to deter migrants from coming to the U.S. More than 4,300 families were separated under the policy.

Trump signed an executive order in June 2018 halting the policy. However, a limited number of families were still separated throughout the rest of Trump’s presidency. Hundreds of parents were still missing from their children when Biden took office because officials did not properly track children who were separated from their parents under the Trump administration. Biden has since created a task force to reunite children who were separated from their parents.

A 2-year-old girl cries as her mother is searched and detained near the U.S.-Mexico border on June 12, 2018, in McAllen, Texas.
A 2-year-old girl cries as her mother is searched and detained near the U.S.-Mexico border on June 12, 2018, in McAllen, Texas.
A Mission Police Dept. officer, left, and a U.S. Border Patrol agent watch over a group of Central American asylum seekers before taking them into custody on June 12, 2018, near McAllen, Texas.
A Mission Police Dept. officer, left, and a U.S. Border Patrol agent watch over a group of Central American asylum seekers before taking them into custody on June 12, 2018, near McAllen, Texas.
A migrant child looks out the window of a bus as protesters try to block a bus carrying migrant children out of a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Detention Center on June 23, 2018, in McAllen, Texas.
A migrant child looks out the window of a bus as protesters try to block a bus carrying migrant children out of a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Detention Center on June 23, 2018, in McAllen, Texas.

‘Remain in Mexico’

Trump in January 2019 implemented the Migrant Protection Protocols, known as "Remain in Mexico," which forced migrants to wait in Mexico for their court hearings. The policy caused many migrants to stay in dangerous Mexican border towns with some becoming victims of violence.

16 Central American migrants cross the International Bridge II to be interviewed by U.S. immigration authorities and have the possibility of receiving asylum, in Piedras Negras, Coahuila state, Mexico, on the border with the US, on February 16, 2019. - Some 50 Central American migrants staying at a shelter in Piedras Negras, have already been accepted to begin their application for political asylum in the United States. President Donald Trump, repeating his claim that "walls work," announced Friday that he will declare a national emergency in order to build a barrier on the US-Mexico border without funding from Congress. (Photo by Julio Cesar AGUILAR / AFP)
16 Central American migrants cross the International Bridge II to be interviewed by U.S. immigration authorities and have the possibility of receiving asylum, in Piedras Negras, Coahuila state, Mexico, on the border with the US, on February 16, 2019. - Some 50 Central American migrants staying at a shelter in Piedras Negras, have already been accepted to begin their application for political asylum in the United States. President Donald Trump, repeating his claim that "walls work," announced Friday that he will declare a national emergency in order to build a barrier on the US-Mexico border without funding from Congress. (Photo by Julio Cesar AGUILAR / AFP)
On Aug. 30, 2019, migrants, many who were returned to Mexico under the Trump administration's "Remain in Mexico" program, wait in line to get a meal in an encampment near the Gateway International Bridge in Matamoros, Mexico.
On Aug. 30, 2019, migrants, many who were returned to Mexico under the Trump administration's "Remain in Mexico" program, wait in line to get a meal in an encampment near the Gateway International Bridge in Matamoros, Mexico.

Trump’s pressure on Mexico

Trump in March 2019 pressured Mexico to do more to stop migrants from coming to the United States. Trump threatened to close the U.S.-Mexico border and implement tariffs against Mexico. Mexico increased security at its border with Guatemala.

A U.S. Border Patrol agent talks with detained migrants at the border of the United States and Mexico on March 31, 2019 in El Paso, Texas. U.S. President Donald Trump has threatened to close the United States border if Mexico does not stem the flow of illegal migrants trying to cross. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
A U.S. Border Patrol agent talks with detained migrants at the border of the United States and Mexico on March 31, 2019 in El Paso, Texas. U.S. President Donald Trump has threatened to close the United States border if Mexico does not stem the flow of illegal migrants trying to cross. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Migrants held in temporary fencing underneath the Paso Del Norte Bridge await processing on March 28, 2019 in El Paso, Texas. U.S. Customs and Border Protection has temporarily closed all highway checkpoints along the 268-mile stretch of border in the El Paso sector to try to stem a surge in illegal entry.  (Photo by Christ Chavez/Getty Images)
Migrants held in temporary fencing underneath the Paso Del Norte Bridge await processing on March 28, 2019 in El Paso, Texas. U.S. Customs and Border Protection has temporarily closed all highway checkpoints along the 268-mile stretch of border in the El Paso sector to try to stem a surge in illegal entry. (Photo by Christ Chavez/Getty Images)

Overcrowded and unhygienic conditions

The Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General released a report in July 2019 that showed overcrowded and unhygienic conditions at five processing centers in Texas. Children were also kept at those processing facilities longer than 72 hours. By law, children are supposed to be moved out of CBP custody within 72 hours.

"We are concerned that overcrowding and prolonged detention represent an immediate risk to the health and safety of DHS agents and officers, and to those detained," the report said.

This image released in a report on July 2, 2019, by the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Inspector General Office (OIG) shows migrant families overcrowding a Border Patrol facility on June 11, 2019, in Weslaco, Texas.
This image released in a report on July 2, 2019, by the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Inspector General Office (OIG) shows migrant families overcrowding a Border Patrol facility on June 11, 2019, in Weslaco, Texas.
This image released in a report on July 2, 2019, by the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Inspector General Office (OIG) shows migrant families overcrowding a Border Patrol facility on June 10, 2019, in McAllen, Texas.
This image released in a report on July 2, 2019, by the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Inspector General Office (OIG) shows migrant families overcrowding a Border Patrol facility on June 10, 2019, in McAllen, Texas.
Eighty-eight men crowd into a cell with a maximum capacity of 41 on June 12 at the Border Patrol's Fort Brown Station. Some of the men signal their prolonged detention to OIG staff.
Eighty-eight men crowd into a cell with a maximum capacity of 41 on June 12 at the Border Patrol's Fort Brown Station. Some of the men signal their prolonged detention to OIG staff.
This is a photo from an Inspector General report that was just released highlighting dangerous overcrowding inside Border Patrol stations along the southern border. DHS OIG made surprise visits to the El Paso Del Norte Processing Center Border Patrol processing facility in El Paso on May 7 and 8. Among other evidence of poor holding conditions, the OIG found that the facility was holding 750-900 migrants despite a maximum capacity of 125 detainees.
This is a photo from an Inspector General report that was just released highlighting dangerous overcrowding inside Border Patrol stations along the southern border. DHS OIG made surprise visits to the El Paso Del Norte Processing Center Border Patrol processing facility in El Paso on May 7 and 8. Among other evidence of poor holding conditions, the OIG found that the facility was holding 750-900 migrants despite a maximum capacity of 125 detainees.

New asylum policy and ICE raids

In July 2019, Trump implemented a policy that would not allow migrants to seek asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border if they passed through another country first. While a majority of migrants are from Central America, and would have to pass through Mexico, migrants seeking asylum are also coming from Africa, Cuba and Haiti.

Central American migrant families arrive at a Catholic Charities respite center after being released from federal detention in McAllen, Texas.
Central American migrant families arrive at a Catholic Charities respite center after being released from federal detention in McAllen, Texas.

As part of his crackdown on undocumented immigrants in the United States, raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement increased. In August 2019, ICE raided seven chicken plants in Mississippi, where hundreds of immigrant workers were arrested. Some were mothers who were still breastfeeding their young babies, as well as single parents.

This image released by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) shows a Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) officer guarding suspected illegal aliens on August 7, 2019. Officers detained approximately 680 aliens who were unlawfully working at at seven agricultural processing plants across Mississippi. - US officials said that some 680 undocumented migrants were detained in a major series of raids on August 7, at food processing plants in the southeastern state of Mississippi, part of President Donald Trump's announced crackdown on illegal immigration. "Special agents executed administrative and criminal search warrants resulting in the detention of approximately 680 illegal aliens," said Mike Hurst, US Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi. (Photo by HO / US Immigration and Customs Enforcement / AFP)
This image released by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) shows a Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) officer guarding suspected illegal aliens on August 7, 2019. Officers detained approximately 680 aliens who were unlawfully working at at seven agricultural processing plants across Mississippi. - US officials said that some 680 undocumented migrants were detained in a major series of raids on August 7, at food processing plants in the southeastern state of Mississippi, part of President Donald Trump's announced crackdown on illegal immigration. "Special agents executed administrative and criminal search warrants resulting in the detention of approximately 680 illegal aliens," said Mike Hurst, US Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi. (Photo by HO / US Immigration and Customs Enforcement / AFP)
This image released by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) shows a Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) officer guarding suspected illegal aliens on August 7, 2019. Officers detained approximately 680 aliens who were unlawfully working at at seven agricultural processing plants across Mississippi. - US officials said that some 680 undocumented migrants were detained in a major series of raids on August 7, at food processing plants in the southeastern state of Mississippi, part of President Donald Trump's announced crackdown on illegal immigration. "Special agents executed administrative and criminal search warrants resulting in the detention of approximately 680 illegal aliens," said Mike Hurst, US Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi. (Photo by HO / US Immigration and Customs Enforcement / AFP)
This image released by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) shows a Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) officer guarding suspected illegal aliens on August 7, 2019. Officers detained approximately 680 aliens who were unlawfully working at at seven agricultural processing plants across Mississippi. - US officials said that some 680 undocumented migrants were detained in a major series of raids on August 7, at food processing plants in the southeastern state of Mississippi, part of President Donald Trump's announced crackdown on illegal immigration. "Special agents executed administrative and criminal search warrants resulting in the detention of approximately 680 illegal aliens," said Mike Hurst, US Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi. (Photo by HO / US Immigration and Customs Enforcement / AFP)

The start of Title 42

In March 2020, at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention instituted a policy, Title 42, that allowed the CBP to expel undocumented migrants to prevent the spread of the virus in holding facilities. The majority of migrants, including children, were deported under that policy.

Verty plays with his 1-year-old daughter while his wife Saint Jean fixes the house in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on Aug. 25, 2020. The Trump administration had sharply increased its use of hotels to detain immigrant children before expelling them from the United States during the coronavirus pandemic. Verty says government contractors at a hotel where he was detained gave his family, including his daughter, cups of ice to eat to pass temperature checks prior to their deportation flight, even though they had tested negative for COVID-19.
Verty plays with his 1-year-old daughter while his wife Saint Jean fixes the house in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on Aug. 25, 2020. The Trump administration had sharply increased its use of hotels to detain immigrant children before expelling them from the United States during the coronavirus pandemic. Verty says government contractors at a hotel where he was detained gave his family, including his daughter, cups of ice to eat to pass temperature checks prior to their deportation flight, even though they had tested negative for COVID-19.

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Biden takes over

Within days of Biden's inauguration Jan. 20, he halted construction of the border wall, stopped the Migrant Protection Protocol and his administration began processing individuals who were part of the policy.

Although Biden is continuing to keep Title 42 in place, his administration is now accepting children. However, the Biden administration has struggled to quickly move children out of CBP custody and into the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services while HHS vets sponsors and family members for the children. Many children are being kept in jail-like facilities that are overcrowded and hundreds of children are being kept in those facilities longer than the 72-hour limit.

A temporary Customs and Border Protection processing center is seen from a Texas Department of Public Safety helicopter on March 23, 2021 in Donna, Texas. A surge of immigrants, including unaccompanied minors crossing into the United States from Mexico is overcrowding such centers in south Texas. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
A temporary Customs and Border Protection processing center is seen from a Texas Department of Public Safety helicopter on March 23, 2021 in Donna, Texas. A surge of immigrants, including unaccompanied minors crossing into the United States from Mexico is overcrowding such centers in south Texas. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
Young minors lie inside a pod at the Donna Department of Homeland Security holding facility, the main detention center for unaccompanied children in the Rio Grande Valley run by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), in Donna, Texas, Tuesday, March 30, 2021. The minors 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 Biden administration on Tuesday for the first time allowed journalists inside its main detention facility at the border for migrant children, revealing a severely overcrowded tent structure where more than 4,000 kids and families were crammed into pods and the youngest kept in a large play pen with mats on the floor for sleeping.(AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills,Pool)
Young minors lie inside a pod at the Donna Department of Homeland Security holding facility, the main detention center for unaccompanied children in the Rio Grande Valley run by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), in Donna, Texas, Tuesday, March 30, 2021. The minors 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 Biden administration on Tuesday for the first time allowed journalists inside its main detention facility at the border for migrant children, revealing a severely overcrowded tent structure where more than 4,000 kids and families were crammed into pods and the youngest kept in a large play pen with mats on the floor for sleeping.(AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills,Pool)
Minors who tested positive for Covid-19 sit on the ground 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)
Minors who tested positive for Covid-19 sit on the ground 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)
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)
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)
Minors play soccer on a field 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)
Minors play soccer on a field 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)
Young unaccompanied migrants, ages 3-9 watch TV inside a playpen at the Donna Department of Homeland Security holding facility, the main detention center for unaccompanied children in the Rio Grande Valley in Donna, Texas, March 30, 2021. The youngest of the unaccompanied minors are kept separate from the rest of the detainees. (Photo by Dario Lopez-Mills / POOL / AFP)
Young unaccompanied migrants, ages 3-9 watch TV inside a playpen at the Donna Department of Homeland Security holding facility, the main detention center for unaccompanied children in the Rio Grande Valley in Donna, Texas, March 30, 2021. The youngest of the unaccompanied minors are kept separate from the rest of the detainees. (Photo by Dario Lopez-Mills / POOL / AFP)

In January, a Mexican law stopped the United States from turning away migrant families with young children at some parts of the U.S.-Mexico border, as the Mexican government was no longer accepting children and families to their government-run facilities. The Biden administration has noted it has accepted some families, but other families are still being expelled to Mexico.

Migrants are seen in custody at a U.S. Customs and Border Protection processing area under the Anzalduas International Bridge, Friday, March 19, 2021, in Mission, Texas. A surge of migrants on the Southwest border has the Biden administration on the defensive. The head of Homeland Security acknowledged the severity of the problem Tuesday but insisted it's under control and said he won't revive a Trump-era practice of immediately expelling teens and children. An official says U.S. authorities encountered nearly double the number children traveling alone across the Mexican border in one day this week than on an average day last month. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Migrants are seen in custody at a U.S. Customs and Border Protection processing area under the Anzalduas International Bridge, Friday, March 19, 2021, in Mission, Texas. A surge of migrants on the Southwest border has the Biden administration on the defensive. The head of Homeland Security acknowledged the severity of the problem Tuesday but insisted it's under control and said he won't revive a Trump-era practice of immediately expelling teens and children. An official says U.S. authorities encountered nearly double the number children traveling alone across the Mexican border in one day this week than on an average day last month. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Migrants are seen in custody at a U.S. Customs and Border Protection processing area under the Anzalduas International Bridge, Friday, March 19, 2021, in Mission, Texas. A surge of migrants on the Southwest border has the Biden administration on the defensive. The head of Homeland Security acknowledged the severity of the problem Tuesday but insisted it's under control and said he won't revive a Trump-era practice of immediately expelling teens and children. An official says U.S. authorities encountered nearly double the number children traveling alone across the Mexican border in one day this week than on an average day last month. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Migrants are seen in custody at a U.S. Customs and Border Protection processing area under the Anzalduas International Bridge, Friday, March 19, 2021, in Mission, Texas. A surge of migrants on the Southwest border has the Biden administration on the defensive. The head of Homeland Security acknowledged the severity of the problem Tuesday but insisted it's under control and said he won't revive a Trump-era practice of immediately expelling teens and children. An official says U.S. authorities encountered nearly double the number children traveling alone across the Mexican border in one day this week than on an average day last month. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
In this photo taken by a drone, migrants are seen in custody at a U.S. Customs and Border Protection processing area under the Anzalduas International Bridge, Thursday, March 18, 2021, in Mission, Texas. A surge of migrants on the Southwest border has the Biden administration on the defensive. The head of Homeland Security acknowledged the severity of the problem Tuesday but insisted it's under control and said he won't revive a Trump-era practice of immediately expelling teens and children. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
In this photo taken by a drone, migrants are seen in custody at a U.S. Customs and Border Protection processing area under the Anzalduas International Bridge, Thursday, March 18, 2021, in Mission, Texas. A surge of migrants on the Southwest border has the Biden administration on the defensive. The head of Homeland Security acknowledged the severity of the problem Tuesday but insisted it's under control and said he won't revive a Trump-era practice of immediately expelling teens and children. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

The surge

An increase in migrants coming to the U.S. drew the nation's attention back to the border earlier this year.

The Biden administration has experienced an uptick in migrants coming to the border, including unaccompanied children. As of Friday, 5,381 unaccompanied children were in CBP custody and 13,359 unaccompanied children were in HHS custody.

Both Democratic and Republican lawmakers have criticized Biden for his response to the surge coming to the United States.

With many of the CBP facilities overcrowded, Democratic lawmakers said they want to see the Biden administration quickly move children to their sponsors. Republican lawmakers, however, have criticized Biden for undoing many of Trump’s policies, saying that is what led to the increase. Republicans have also called on Biden to visit the border, something the president has yet to do.

For months, the Biden administration has limited press from touring the HHS and CBP facilities. Late last month, CBS and other media outlets were able to tour a CBP facility in Donna, Texas. Children could be seen sleeping on mats on the floor with Mylar blankets. Many of the pods holding the children were overcrowded and some children could be seen playing soccer outside on an AstroTurf field.

Biden announced last month Vice President Kamala Harris would take the lead in working with Central American countries to help mitigate migration at the border.

Reach Rebecca Morin at Twitter @RebeccaMorin_

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: US immigration policy has continued to shift in Biden and Trump years