EL PASO, TX – On Monday the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced a significant increase in the number of beds that have been allocated for unaccompanied migrant children who arrive at the border. According to the announcement, HHS will be opening several more locations in Texas.
The Freeman Expo Center in San Antonio will house up to 2,400 children. Fort Bliss will have the ability to receive up to 5,000 children and Joint Base San Antonio Lackland can accommodate up to 350 beds.
“The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services aggressively works with its interagency partners to ensure that unaccompanied migrant children are safe and unified with family members or other suitable sponsors as quickly and safely as possible,” HHS said in a news release.
In the past two months, HHS has increased bed capacity at several locations"
- February 22: Carrizo Springs Influx Care Facility opened and can house up to 952 beds
- March 19: Emergency Intake Site for Unaccompanied Children opened in Midland with 700 beds
- March 19: Emergency Intake Site in Dallas opened with 300 beds
- March 20: Influx Care Facility at Target Lodge Pecos North in Pecos with a capacity of 2,000 beds
- March 23: Unaccompanied Children opened at the San Diego Convention Center, with 1,400 beds
According to the data, this means a total of 13,102 beds have been set aside to accommodate the unaccompanied children. Of that amount, 11,702 of the allotted beds will be based in Texas.
HHS also stated it is working to releasing children to sponsors or transfer them to other providers in the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) as quickly as possible.
According to the agency, the goal of the Office of Refugee Resettlement is to ensure kids do not spend more than 72 hours in Border Patrol facilities.
Under U.S. law, children under the age of 18 caught crossing the border without a parent or legal guardian are labeled “unaccompanied” and must be transferred from Border Patrol facilities to HHS shelters within 72 hours, but the sudden influx has caused issues in that area.