HHS to close three facilities housing child immigrants

The Health and Human Services Department is closing three shelters on Army bases set up to house the surge of child immigrants detained illegally crossing the border. 

The shelters are being closed as the number of unaccompanied children being detained has dropped in recent months, putting less strain on housing demands. HHS has also increased capacity at shelters set up by nonprofits, the agency said. 

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"To prudently manage its resources, HHS’s Administration for Children and Families will be suspending these temporary facilities," HHS spokesman Kenneth Wolfe said in a statement released Monday. 

According to the HHS Administration for Children and Families, which is tasked with housing the children, the number of child immigrants dropped nearly by half from June to July. 

In June, 10,483 minors were referred to the department. In July, that number dropped to 5,303. 

So far this year, the department has processed 50,523 children. Only 3,450 remain in the program as of Monday, according to HHS. 

The minors temporarily stay in HHS housing until they can be released to a sponsor in the United States to await a deportation hearing. 

The facility in Fort Sill Army Base in Oklahoma is slated to close Friday. The other two facilities at bases in Texas and California are slated to close in the next two to eight weeks. The bases have taken in more than 7,700 children since opening earlier this year. 

HHS did not rule out the possibility of the base facilities reopening if the surge of children increases again.

"The Department of Defense has been an exemplary partner in this humanitarian response," Wolfe's statement continued.