“We are assessing all of our options on the table to make sure we have the capacity to house kids and take care of them and make sure they’re not backed up in CBP [Customs and Border Protection] custody,” an HHS official told CBS on Monday, saying that there are concerns about CBP facilities, which are designed to hold adults, not children.
CBS said that at least 179 migrant children spent more than three days in CBP facilities in January, 45 of them were held for more than 10 days, while the policy is that migrants, minors in particular, should be released within 72 hours.
“CBP facilities were designed to process adult men and are fundamentally inappropriate for children to remain in for any amount of time,” Neha Desai, a lawyer who represents migrant minors, told CBS News.
HHS announced on Monday that US authorities were reopening a temporary facility in the state of Texas to prepare to house an influx of migrant children arriving at the US-Mexico border without a parent. The facility will house up to 700 migrant children ages 13 to 17.
On Monday, the number of children housed by the ORR, which is a branch of the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), was at 7,100. The total number of beds available for minors is 8,000 so only around 900 empty beds remain, CBS said.
As of February 18, there were about 6,800 unaccompanied migrant children under the care of the ORR.