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DHS Scrambles To Find Temporary Housing For Migrant Children On Military Bases, Border Stations

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Just weeks after the US Department of Homeland Security introduced a new policy that allowed ICE agents to separate children and adults crossing the border, NBC News is reporting that the rapidly rising number of minors being housed at the border is forcing DHS to scramble to find new accommodations as the administration continues to separate migrant children from their parents.

In May, President Trump introduced his "zero-tolerance" policy, saying that parents and migrant children would be separated at the border. The Department of Homeland Security then inflamed the situation by revealing that it had lost track of some 1,500 children. Since then, demands for more oversight at DHS have intensified.

As of Sunday, 300 of 550 children currently in custody at US border stations had spent more than 72 hours there, having reached the time limit for temporary detention. These stations often lack the resources necessary to house children, including bedding and other resources.

NBC

Almost half of these children are younger than 12, meaning they're classified as "tender age children." Given the inadequacy of their temporary accommodations, DHS scouts are searching for more space where these children can be comfortably housed for the interim period until they've been placed in permanent accommodations.

As NBC notes, the "overstays" at border stations are a result of a backlog at U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS), which is the agency responsible for sheltering migrant children longer term and matching them with relatives or foster parents in the U.S. The agency's Administration for Children and Families has 11,200 unaccompanied children in its care and takes 45 days on average to place a child with a sponsor.

More from NBC:

"It would be highly inappropriate and even unsafe to hold children for extended periods in these short-term border facilities because they often lack the adequate medical and nutritional resources for these young people," said Greg Chen, director of government relations for the American Immigration Lawyers Association. "It would place these children at risk of harm if they are housed with adults without the proper privacy that children should have."

[...]

The overstays at border stations are a result of a backlog at U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS), the agency responsible for sheltering migrant children longer term and matching them with relatives or foster parents in the U.S. The agency's Administration for Children and Families has 11,200 unaccompanied children in its care and takes 45 days on average to place a child with a sponsor, according to a spokesperson.

HHS officials will soon tour military installations near the border in Texas as they search for more space to house children while they wait for placement. The officials will tour Dyess Air Force Base, Goodfellow Air Force Base, and Fort Bliss, the spokesperson said.

"HHS will make the determination if they will use any of the three sites for UAC (unaccompanied alien children) operations," the spokesperson said.

To be sure, military bases have been used to house migrant children in the past – including during the Obama administration, although Obama-era officials who spoke with NBC predictably said they only housed children at military bases as a "last resort."

"What's happening now is a broad indication of a total lack of planning or forethought for the policy they enacted," said Peter Boogaard, a former DHS and White House official in the Obama administration who is now a spokesman for the immigration reform group FW.us. "They didn't think this through at all — what it would mean for kids, for their parents and for the operational challenges."

"Instead of having Border Patrol agents at the border, you have them taking care of kids at border stations."

In another policy decision that could make it more difficult for the administration to place children with relatives, the Trump administration recently started requiring the Department of Health and Human Services to fingerprint people claiming to be parents of unaccompanied children, a move the previous administration said would delay children from being reunited with their families and scare undocumented parents away from coming forward.


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