Government shelters now housing nearly 15K migrant children

Nearly 15,000 migrant children are being held at government shelters, putting the facilities nearly at capacity, NPR reported Thursday.

The news outlet reported that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said its network of more than 100 shelters is 92 percent full. The influx of migrant children in recent months has prompted the department to weigh options for how to accommodate additional bodies.

HHS confirmed to The Hill that there are "about 14,700" unaccompanied migrant children in government custody, but would not confirm how close to capacity the shelters are. An official said the program is set up to expand and contract as needed


A senior official with the department told NPR that "everything is on the table" to address the crowding at shelters, including releasing the children more quickly to sponsors in the U.S. or building additional shelters. 

"We continue to look for options that don't jeopardize child safety," the official told NPR.

Rep. Rosa DeLauroRosa Luisa DeLauroCoronavirus recession hits Social Security, Medicare, highway funding Lobbyists see wins, losses in GOP coronavirus bill Public health groups denounce new Trump move sidelining CDC MORE (D-Conn.) said earlier this month that the Trump administration has asked for an additional $190 million to operate immigrant detention facilities.

DeLauro told reporters that HHS was given authority via an appropriation package signed into law earlier this year to transfer more funds than previously allowed to pay for housing migrant children.

DeLauro said she opposes the policy and intends to look at rescinding it next year when she is expected to serve as the head of the House Appropriations subcommittee with jurisdiction over HHS, starting in January.

The number and status of migrant children in government custody has been under scrutiny since earlier this year when the Trump administration implemented a "zero tolerance" policy that led to the separation of thousands of migrant families at the southern border.

A federal judge ordered that children who were separated from their parents as a result of that policy be reunited with their families, a process that took several months.

--Nathaniel Weixel contributed to this report, which was updated at 11:15 a.m.