The Latest on unaccompanied immigrant children in government custody (all times local):
U.S. Customs and Border Protection says only 200 unaccompanied immigrant children remain in Border Patrol custody. That’s compared to up to 2,700 children the agency had last month.
Children who travel to the U.S. alone or who arrive with relatives who aren’t parents or legal guardians are considered unaccompanied minors. They are supposed to be turned over within 72 hours to the U.S. Health and Human Services Department, which contracts with shelters. HHS then releases the children to a vetted sponsor, usually a relative.
But a spike in the number of unaccompanied kids and a delay in HHS picking them up resulted in children languishing in overcrowded Border Patrol facilities for weeks.
The agency says HHS has been able to pick up kids from CBP custody much more quickly since getting more funding. HHS has not responded to a request for comment.
A former oilfield worker camp off a dirt road in rural Texas has become the U.S. government’s newest holding center for detaining migrant children after they leave Border Patrol stations.
Inside the wire fence that encircles the site in Carrizo Springs are soccer fields, a giant air-conditioned tent that serves as a dining hall, and trailers that are used as dorms and classrooms.
The Department of Health and Human Services says about 225 children are being held at the site.
HHS says it needs the space to move children out of Border Patrol stations, where complaints of overcrowding and filthy conditions have sparked a worldwide outcry.