The Department of Health and Human Services is reopening an overflow facility for unaccompanied migrant children apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border to keep up with an influx of unaccompanied minors crossing the border illegally, according to a new report.
The department, which is charged with caring for children taken into custody at the border by the Department of Homeland Security, is set to reopen a facility in Carrizo Springs, Texas that can take in roughly 700 children, according to CNN.
The facility, which will house children who are cleared from COVID-19 quarantine and will not be used for minors under the age of 13, can be expanded if necessary.
There were roughly 4,730 children in the care of HHS’s Office of Refugee Resettlement as of Thursday.
“HHS is mindful of these children’s vulnerability, and our priority is the safety and wellbeing of each child in our care. HHS anticipates the need to start placing children at Carrizo Springs in 15 days or soon after,” the agency said in a statement.
Apprehensions of unaccompanied children have spiked as a confluence of factors, both economic and environmental, has pushed migrants to attempt to enter the U.S. The Biden administration, and its perception as being more welcoming toward immigrants, may also be driving an increase.
Meanwhile, facilities at the border are struggling with reduced capacity limits due to COVID-19.
Children who are taken into DHS custody are subject to expulsion under a Trump-era policy. However, if they are placed in care, case managers work to match the child with a sponsor in the U.S., like a parent or relative.
DHS is starting to expand its processing capacity, with U.S. Customs and Border Protection building structures in Donna, Texas to offer additional processing capacity in the Rio Grande Valley, a hotspot for illegal border crossings where a nearby processing center is closed for renovation.