Dareli Matamoros, A girl from Honduras, appeals to President Joe Biden for entry into the US from Tijuana, Mexico (Guillermo Arias/AFP/Getty)

The Biden Administration deploys the Federal Emergency Management Agency to the southern US border to help care for unaccompanied minors.

The Department of Homeland Security announced the deployment on Saturday night amid a surge in migrant teens and children crossing the border this year.

About 9,000 unaccompanied minors cross the US southern border in February. The number in holding facilities tripling in the past two weeks to about 3,500, with 1,400 have been held beyond the three-day legal limit.

A source said almost 170 of the children are younger than 13.

See also Biden Administration Faces First Immigration Test Over Unaccompanied Minors

Homeland Security said the deployment will be for 90 days, as the Administration tries to find shelter and sponsors for the minors to move them out of the holding centers.

About 8,500 teens and children live in shelters run by Health and Human Services. However, Administration officials say they are dealing with the damage of the Trump-era “zero tolerance” approach and its “immoral and ineffective immigration policy”.

Homeland Security Director Alejandro Mayorkas said in Saturday’s statement:

A Border Patrol facility is no place for a child. We are working in partnership with HHS [Health and Human Services] to address the needs of unaccompanied children, which is made only more difficult given the protocols and restrictions required to protect the public health and the health of the children themselves.