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Newly arrived migrant children inside a temporary federal facility for unaccompanied minors in Donna, Texas, on March 30, 2021. (AP Newly arrived migrant children inside a temporary federal facility for unaccompanied minors in Donna, Texas, on March 30, 2021. (AP

Newly arrived migrant children inside a temporary federal facility for unaccompanied minors in Donna, Texas, on March 30, 2021. (AP

Tom Kertscher
By Tom Kertscher April 15, 2021

Fact-checking whether ‘kids in cages’ border facility is at 700% capacity

If Your Time is short

  • News reports in March said a tent complex in Texas, a temporary U.S. border facility holding minors who cross the Mexico border, was at 700% or more of its capacity. Children sleep in see-through plastic pods.

  • The minors arrived unaccompanied and are being housed because of the Biden administration’s policy not to return them to Mexico.

  • The Trump administration was criticized for “kids in cages” — using chain-link enclosures to temporarily house children — because of its practice, from April to June of 2018, of separating children from their parents at the border.

After the Trump administration in 2018 began separating children from their parents at the Mexico border and housing the children temporarily in chain-link enclosures, Democrats used "kids in cages," a term the Trump administration rejected, to attack Trump.

Now, amid record-breaking numbers of child migrants crossing the border, critics of President Joe Biden are crying foul. 

Stated one post circulating on Facebook: 

"Don’t hear y’all complaining about kids in cages now they’re at 700% capacity. Funny. Almost like you don’t care when it’s Biden."

The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

News organizations including CNN and CBS reported in March that a temporary border processing facility holding migrant children in Donna, Texas, was at 700% or more of capacity. It’s a tent complex, essentially a building with soft walls, where children sleep in see-through plastic pods. 

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At the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, the Trump administration implemented a policy that immediately expelled all people crossing the border, including children who arrived alone.

The Biden administration stopped that practice for children in January, allowing children who cross the border alone to remain in the U.S. while they await immigration court proceedings. 

Experts say that a pull factor created by Biden’s policy change is one of several factors driving the uptick in unaccompanied minors. Another is a federal judge’s order in November that stopped the Trump administration’s practice of returning accompanied children.

Our ruling

A widely shared Facebook post claimed: "Kids in cages" in border facilities are "at 700% capacity."

The term "cage" is a subjective one that Democrats used to attack the Trump administration’s policy of separating children from their parents and temporarily housing them in facilities with chain-link enclosures.

A Texas tent complex that houses migrant children temporarily has been at more than 700% capacity, as record numbers of children cross the Mexico border. But the Biden administration’s policy is to house unaccompanied minors while they await immigration proceedings and not to return them to Mexico. 

The statement is partially accurate but leaves out important details or takes things out of context. We rate it Half True.

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Fact-checking whether ‘kids in cages’ border facility is at 700% capacity

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