Facilities with migrant children can temporary return to pre-pandemic levels: official
The Biden administration is moving to temporarily reopen facilities housing migrant children to pre-COVID-19 levels, according to a memo obtained by CNN.
Administration officials noted that “extraordinary circumstances” have contributed to the decision as thousands of unaccompanied children have sought to cross the border recently and added strain to the immigration system, the news outlet reported.
“Additional shelter capacity will minimize the likelihood that children remain in Border Patrol stations longer than necessary, where they are also exposed to COVID-19 transmission risks as well as child welfare concerns associated with such settings,” the memo states. “Overcapacity at Border Stations poses a greater infection risk to children than [Office of Refugee Resettlement] program sites that may operate at full licensed capacity with comprehensive COVID-19 mitigation measures in place.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Friday stated that the administration is moving toward preparing for the increased number of children at the border.
“We recognize the challenge of having these unaccompanied children come across the border and the influx that we’re certainly preparing for and, and preparing to approach,” Psaki said, according to CNN.
The outlet noted that due to coronavirus restrictions, the Department of Health and Human Services, which is charged with looking after the children, has only been able to function with just over half of the beds it has for unaccompanied children until they are able to be placed with their parents or a sponsor.
Almost 7,700 unaccompanied migrant children are currently in the department’s care. Under pre-COVID-19 conditions, a total of nearly 13,650 beds were made available to accommodate children, according to CNN.