Number of migrant children detained in HHS facilities nearly doubled in April

Kaylee Greenlee, DCNF

The number of unaccompanied migrant minors detained at Department of Health and Human Services facilities increased 89.9% in one month, according to the agency.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) reported over 22,500 unaccompanied migrant minors were in custody on April 29 compared to nearly 11,900 children on March 29. Since more migrant children were transferred to HHS care, the number of minors in Customs and Border Protection (CBP) custody decreased by 83.4% over the same period.

The Biden administration has focused on quickly transferring unaccompanied migrant children from CBP processing facilities to HHS shelters where they receive medical screenings, food, shelter and clothing, according to HHS.

Unaccompanied migrant minors remain in HHS custody while officials work to match them with a sponsor in the interior of the U.S. Just over 400 migrant children were discharged from HHS care on April 29 while 248 minors were released on March 29, according to the agency.

“Providing unaccompanied children a safe, healthy place is both our legal and moral obligation,” HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement. “In the past month, we’ve made great strides expanding our capacity to meet those obligations while we work to safely and swiftly unify children with a family member or responsible sponsor.”

An average of 658 migrant children were transferred daily from CBP custody to HHS shelters over the last 30 days, according to HHS. Migrant children from Mexico aren’t included in the reported custody numbers because most of them are rapidly returned to the country and don’t remain in CBP custody.

Allegations of sexual abuse and medical neglect at one HHS facility in San Antonio, Texas, prompted officials to investigate reported conditions, the Daily Caller News Foundation reported.

CBP officials encountered over 172,000 migrants including nearly 19,000 unaccompanied minors in March, according to the agency. Officials apprehended 34,172 unaccompanied migrant children from January 2021 to March 2021.

The Biden administration has opened several additional processing facilities to hold the increasing number of unaccompanied migrant minors arriving at the southern border, according to HHS.

HHS did not respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.

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