The largest temporary shelter is in Fort Bliss
WASHINGTON-The Biden administration seems to spend at least $60 million a week to care for more than 16,000 migrant children and adolescents in shelters operated by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and these costs are expected to increase significantly. According to the analysis of government data obtained by the Washington Post, the next few months.
The largest temporary shelter announced to date is at Fort Bliss, an army post in El Paso, which can accommodate up to 5,000 beds.
In recent weeks, the record of unaccompanied minors reaching the border has reached a record level, and HHS quickly filled the 7,700 beds in its network of permanent shelters, where the cost of taking care of the children is approximately US$290 per day. , Covid reduced the accommodation agreement.
The government is eager to build at least 10 large-scale emergency facilities, creating 16,000 temporary beds for migrant children in convention centers, oil worker camps and military bases.
Approximately 8,500 minors live in these emerging locations, and more than 4,000 minors are waiting to be transferred from narrow border facilities.
Government emergency spokesman Kenneth Wolf said that the cost of these emergency locations is more than 2.5 times higher than the cost of permanent shelters because of the need to develop facilities quickly and hire qualified personnel in a short time. For children and families. He said that based on past experience, the average cost per child is “approximately $775 per day.”
Reporters have repeatedly asked the Biden administration to provide data on expenses related to emergency shelters, in addition to a figure of $775. The officials did not provide a breakdown by location, nor did they indicate the financial savings associated with other locations, such as the use of military bases.
According to the latest HHS data, adolescents and children spend an average of 31 days before being detained by HHS before being released to relatives or qualified sponsors who have been screened in the United States. Therefore, the government in the United States for each minor People spend about 24,000 U.S. dollars. Temporary facilities. This does not include time spent in border patrol agencies.
The government predicts that by September, 22,000 to 26,000 unaccompanied minors will arrive each month and require HHS care, which will further increase the level of expenditure. Biden officials said they do not plan to ask Congress to provide supplementary funds to cover emergency locations.
During the historic influx of immigrant family groups in 2019, the Trump administration managed to get Congress to pass a $4.6 billion supplementary funding bill, part of which was used to expand housing capacity and improve government detention The care of residents.
Last month, the HHS Children and Family Administration received $47.5 billion in funding through the $1.9 billion CARES bill passed by Congress. The HHS secretary has the right to re-arrange discretionary expenditures for small unaccompanied programs, thereby providing the agency with a considerable housing cost buffer, which may reach billions of dollars this year.
With the help of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), HHS has opened or announced plans to open at least 10 emergency sites in California and Texas in recent weeks. Thousands of immigrant youths are now housed in convention centers in Dallas, San Antonio, and San Diego. Others slept in church shelters in Houston, tents in southern Texas, and modular houses near oil drilling sites outside of San Antonio, Texas and Midland.
These facilities are supervised by HHS, but are usually operated through contracts with non-profit organizations and faith-based organizations. Officials said that the biggest expense is personnel and insurance. The Biden administration has been working hard to quickly staff these locations and made multiple calls within the Department of Homeland Security, asking volunteers to work with the Red Cross, HHS medical staff, and others to help care for the children.
While the HHS network of smaller permanent shelters is usually licensed by the state inspector, there is no license for temporary locations. But the agency said the conditions they offered were the same as the standards in the licensed facility.
Temporary shelters are generally considered a major improvement over the narrow border tents in which CBP initially accommodated minors after crossing the border. Images from these facilities in recent weeks showed teenagers and children sleeping side by side on the carpet. Lawyers said many people complained about being unable to shower for several days.
The weekly cost of HHS is estimated at $60 million, which does not include the cost of the tent location. According to officials from the United States Customs and Border Protection, the largest one is in Donna, Texas, and spends about $16 million a month.
The agency opened an additional tent facility near Eagle Pass, Texas this month, and is considering building another processing plant in Arizona to ease overcrowding at the border post there.
Temporary shelters operated by HHS usually provide educational and recreational programs, as well as medical services and opportunities for minors to communicate with their families.
The Biden administration stated that it is working to simplify the process of selecting sponsors so that minors with parents and immediate family members in the United States can be released more quickly.
Wolf said: “HHS is committed to ensuring that all unaccompanied children are under our custody.” “To this end, we will do everything we can to ensure that funds are used as efficiently as possible to provide safe havens and appropriate services, and Control costs as much as possible.”
Rob Portman, the highest-ranking Republican on the Ohio Senate Committee on Government Affairs and Homeland Security, said he expressed “deep concern” over reports of Biden officials trying to speed up the investigation process.
Portman said in a statement: “Since 2015, my bipartisan oversight has shown that in both governments, federal agencies must do a better job in ensuring the safety of these vulnerable children.” “The U.S. federal government must not. Repeat the previous government’s mistakes and hand over these vulnerable children to traffickers or other situations of abuse, and must be held accountable to ensure that the government takes follow-up actions against children as the legal system advances.”
Last fall, the number of unaccompanied minors entering the United States began to increase, and then Biden took office and his administration announced that it would not use Trump-era public health orders to return teenagers and unaccompanied children to their places of origin. After that, it surged. . Last month, border authorities detained 18,890 minors, an increase from 5,858 in January.