Monday Sunrise Briefing: A surge in children crossing US border

REUTERS/Adrees Latif
Asylum-seeking migrant children take refuge from the rain in the back of a U.S. Border Patrol vehicle after crossing the Rio Grande river near Penitas, Texas, March 14, 2021. Shown in the front row are Yoandri, 4, Michael, 5 and Yojanlee, 2, all from Honduras.

The Biden administration responded this weekend to a growing humanitarian crisis at the U.S. southern border. With a record number of unaccompanied children being held in warehouse-like facilities, the Federal Emergency Management Agency was called upon Saturday to help shelter them. In February, more than 100,000 migrants were detained by the U.S. Border Patrol, and almost 10 percent were minors without guardians. During a similar surge in 2014, the Obama administration also called in FEMA. And the Trump administration saw a huge influx of child migrants in 2018-2019. "You can't help but notice that the administration changes, and there's a surge," Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., told Fox News Sunday. The surge is driven by “hope for a more humane policy,” said Amb. Roberta Jacobson, Biden’s coordinator for the southern border, this past week. Republicans have criticized the Biden administration for rolling back Trump-era restrictions but not having a border security plan. A group of 12 GOP lawmakers plan to visit the border on Monday.

2. Honoring musical excellence. Women ruled the 2021 Grammy Awards. Four women won the top four prizes Sunday, including Taylor Swift, who became the first female performer to win album of the year three times. Beyoncé - with her 28th win - became the most decorated woman in Grammy history. H.E.R. won song of the year and Billie Eilish picked up her second consecutive record of the year honor, telling the audience that best new artist winner Megan Thee Stallion deserved the award. “As an artist I believe it’s my job, and all of our jobs, to reflect time and it’s been such a difficult time,” Beyoncé said as she won best R&B performance for “Black Parade,” which was released on Juneteenth. 

Pat Nabong /Chicago Sun-Times via AP
Irish surprise. The Chicago River was dyed green ahead of St. Patrick's Day, Saturday, March 13, 2021. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot reversed an earlier decision not to tint the waterway to reduce crowds because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Look Ahead

Why We Wrote This

Good morning! Welcome to your Monday, March 15, 2021, sunrise briefing.

Here are two news events from this past weekend (while you may have been spring breaking, baking Irish soda bread, and enjoying an offline life). Also, what to look for in the news this week.

Monday, March 15

Excellence in filmmaking. The Oscar nominations (all 23 categories) are scheduled to be announced Monday morning. In a year of streaming (few theaters open and fewer movies made), expect the streaming services to score big. The ceremony airs April 25.

Democracy watch. The Dutch will cast ballots in national elections over the next three days with Prime Minister Mark Rutte, leading in the polls, seeking a fourth term in office.

Promoting a rescue plan. Vice President Kamala Harris is scheduled to visit Las Vegas and first lady Jill Biden is going to New Jersey Monday as part of a weeklong 'Help is Here' tour to laud the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan. President Joe. Biden is scheduled to go to Pennsylvania Tuesday. The president and vice president are expected in Atlanta on Friday. 

Wednesday, March 17

St. Patrick’s Day. The patron saint is credited with successfully spreading Christianity throughout Ireland. Now, the date is mostly about honoring all things Irish, and tends to be a bigger, rowdier celebration in Irish communities outside the Emerald isle than in it. 

Thursday, March 18

Best of College B-ball. The 2021 NCAA Tournament (aka March Madness) features 68 teams competing for the title. It was canceled by the pandemic last year. This year’s tournament is scheduled to take place entirely in Indiana (mostly in Indianapolis). Coverage starts Thursday at 4 p.m. ET on truTV.

Generosity Watch

As he was leaving for work, Steven Nava of Fontana, California, would sometimes see an elderly man preparing breakfast from the trunk of his 1977 Ford Thunderbird LX.  

One morning, Mr. Nava asked the man, who was living in his car, how he was doing. He was surprised to discover it was Jose Villarruel, aka “Mr. V,” a former substitute high school teacher who’d lost his job during the pandemic. It didn’t sit right with Mr. Nava. So, he bought Mr. Villarruel a meal and put him up in a hotel for a night. 

But that wasn’t enough. 

Then, he set up a GoFundMe page to raise $5,000. On Thursday, Mr. Nava organized a birthday celebration with some former students, and presented Mr. Villarruel with a $27,000 check. 

“I’m still trying to digest the entire experience,” Mr. Villarruel told CBSLA News. “It’s extraordinary, totally unexpected.” Mr. Nava said: “We don’t appreciate these teachers enough.”

Hidden Gem

Start your week with a recent story that inspired Monitor readers:

Want to manipulate the flow of time? Pay attention.

Sneak preview

In tonight’s Daily Edition, watch for our story about how responses to the pandemic have redefined "heroes" in the U.K.

Finally, check out the Monitor’s selected stories from Friday's subscription-only Daily Edition:

  1. Virginia next in line to abolish death penalty. What’s behind the shift?
  2. ‘Tip of the iceberg’: Mapping the pandemic jump in anti-Asian hate
  3. For Israeli Arab voters, surging violent crime overshadows all else
  4. In Canary Islands, renewable energy depends as much on people as on wind
  5. Can the Grammys finally do right by Black artists?

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