Though currently underreported by the mainstream media, and despite the denials of some, there is a full-blown crisis developing on our nation’s southern border.

Asked in a recent press briefing whether there is an illegal immigration crisis brewing, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas’ answer was unequivocal: “No.” And White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki recently refused to label the developments on the southern border as a “crisis.”

But the reality of what is happening on the southern border is quickly becoming more widely acknowledged.

“CBS Evening News” anchor Norah O’Donnell began her program on Tuesday with the breaking news that at least 13,000 children are being held in U.S. custody on the southern border for an average of 120 hours. That is far longer than the 72 hours that is currently allowed by law.

“We’re going to begin with a humanitarian crisis on the southern border that is growing larger and more dire,” O’Donnell said. “The secretary of Homeland Security admitting today that so many people are now crossing the border, his department is on pace to stop more migrants than in the past 20 years… the Biden administration is running out of space to house them.”

As noted by O’Donnell, the surge of illegal alien minors is creating a significant strain on the governmental authorities tasked with caring for them. As a result, U.S. government agencies are planning to use a convention center in downtown Dallas to house up to 3,000 immigrant teenagers. “The Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center will be used for up to 90 days beginning as early as this week,” the Associated Press reported.

Additionally, some politicians are also realizing that the quickly deteriorating situation on the southern border is an emergency.

“It’s a crisis,” Senator Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., told CNN on Monday. “Oh, it’s a crisis.”

The Biden administration has activated the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which is responsible for “helping people before, during and after disasters,” to assist with the large number of unaccompanied minors who are arriving at the border.

Children, or unaccompanied alien children (UACs), which includes illegal immigrants age 0-17 who make the journey north without their parents, are one of the main drivers of the current border crisis.

According to the most recent monthly numbers from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the U.S. Border Patrol (USBP) encountered 29,010 UACs along the southern border in the first part of FY2021 alone. This is a 92% increase when compared to the first part of FY2020, when 15,122 UACs were encountered.

Encounters with illegal aliens by USBP include both apprehensions by border patrol as well as expulsions of aliens.

Additionally, USBP encountered 313,565 single adults along the southern border in the first part of FY2021, which is a massive 188% increase from the first part of FY2020 when 108,846 were encountered.

“The number of children crossing our border illegally is particularly harrowing, with the number of unaccompanied children crossing in February reaching the highest in our nation’s history,” The Washington Examiner recently reported.

These UACs face a particularly perilous journey to the United States.

In remarks given by then-Vice President Joe Biden to the press in 2014, he noted that a large majority of UACs immigrating to the United States travel with human smugglers.

“[UACs are] among the most vulnerable. And the majority of these individuals rely – we estimate between 75 and 80 percent – rely on very dangerous, not-nice, human-smuggling networks that transport them through Central America and Mexico to the United States,” Biden said.

“These smugglers – and everyone should know it, and not turn a blind eye to it – these smugglers routinely engage in physical and sexual abuse, and extortion of these innocent, young women and men by and large. And they profit from the misery of these children and teenagers.”

The value of children is one of the key pillars of Focus on the Family. We resolve that all children deserve to be protected and loved, not exploited or abused.

According to a 2014 report from the Congressional Research Service, UACs frequently pay money to transnational criminal organizations (TCOs), like Los Zetas, to lead them to the U.S. southern border.

This heightens the risk faced by these children because “some smugglers have reportedly sold migrants into situations of forced labor or prostitution (forms of human trafficking) in order to recover their costs; other smugglers’ failure to pay Los Zetas has reportedly resulted in massacres of groups of migrants. Mass grave sites where migrants have been executed by TCOs have been recovered in recent years.”

The dangers posed to unaccompanied children by the hazardous journey to the United States, particularly those of forced labor and prostitution, are profoundly concerning.

In a recent blog post, Focus on the Family President Jim Daly urged his readers to pray for the worsening situation on our southern border.

“Regardless of our political party, our faith demands that we urge our elected representatives to find a humane and God-honoring solution that best preserves the integrity and sanctity of the family unit while also protecting our borders and assuring the safety of our citizens,” Daly wrote.

“We must hold our elected officials who have encouraged this crisis accountable – and we must pray for those innocent children caught in the fray.”

Let’s heed Daly’s call and pray that our governmental authorities may be granted the wisdom and clarity of thought to handle this crisis appropriately, and protect all children involved.

You can follow this author on Parler @ZacharyMettler