Trump administration preparing large, unlicensed facilities to house migrant children

U.S. Customs and Border Protection guards large group of migrants in El Paso
(Image credit: U.S. Customs and Border Protection via AP)

The Health and Human Services Department's Office of Refuge Resettlement is opening a new emergency facility in Carrizo Springs, Texas, to house up to 1,600 unaccompanied minors who crossed into the U.S., mostly from Central America, ORR spokesman Mark Weber tells The Associated Press. Up to 1,400 more children will be housed at three military bases in Oklahoma, Georgia, and Montana. Weber told AP that none of the new facilities will be subject to state child welfare licensing requirements because they will be classified as temporary emergency shelters.

"In January, the government shut down an unlicensed detention camp in the Texas desert under political pressure, and another unlicensed facility called Homestead remains in operation in the Miami suburbs," AP notes.

"It is our legal requirement to take care of these children so that they are not in Border Patrol facilities," Weber said. "They will have the services that ORR always provides, which is food, shelter, and water." ORR will no longer pay for the children to get English lessons, legal services, or recreation activities, under new cutbacks as the government works to process an influx of unaccompanied minors and other migrants.

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Attorneys and immigrant advocates say those cutbacks, and the extended incarceration of the child migrants, violate the Flores legal settlement governing housing of minor immigrants.

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Peter Weber

Peter Weber is a senior editor at TheWeek.com, and has handled the editorial night shift since the website launched in 2008. A graduate of Northwestern University, Peter has worked at Facts on File and The New York Times Magazine. He speaks Spanish and Italian and plays bass and rhythm cello in an Austin rock band. Follow him on Twitter.