EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) — The U.S. agency in charge of caring for unaccompanied migrant minors will stop housing them at an “Emergency Intake Site” at Fort Bliss, according to CBS News.
The Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement opened the tent facility in 2021 at the Army post in the border city of El Paso, Texas. It was one of 14 locations that took in migrant children in the spring of 2021.
In May 2022, HHS officials said the administration had been phasing out Emergency Intake Sites (EIS) and routing the minors – typically 13 to 17 years old – to Influx Care Facilities.
At that point, only two EIS remained active: Fort Bliss and Pecos, Texas.
A U.S. official this month told CBS News that HHS plans to stop housing unaccompanied children at Fort Bliss and place the site in a “warm,” or inactive, status.
Later this summer, the children will move from the Southern border to an Influx Care Facility at a repurposed boarding school in Greensboro, North Carolina, which has 800 beds and includes more than two dozen buildings, sports fields and an athletic center in a green campus near a lake, CBS news reported, adding that the site will offer migrant children educational instruction, recreation, mental health support and medical services.
Formerly known as the American Hebrew Academy, the repurposed boarding school will become the government’s largest active housing facility for migrant boys and girls between the ages of 13 and 17 who entered U.S. border custody without their parents or legal guardians, CBS News reported.
In the summer of 2021, HHS faced calls from migrant advocates to shut down the EIS at Fort Bliss following a barrage of allegations ranging from sexual abuse to substandard health and living conditions.
The Government Accountability Project forwarded to Congress, the Office of the Inspector General, and the U.S. Office of the Special Counsel the testimonies of two volunteers who alleged they were discouraged from filing a report.
The volunteers testified that they witnessed other volunteers waking up children with a bullhorn siren; a volunteer being told she could not take to the doctor a girl bleeding profusely; and bedding going unchanged for weeks in cots where thousands of children slept.
The monthly number of unaccompanied migrant children encountered at the southern border has been at an all-time high in the past three years. Border authorities encountered 146,925 unaccompanied minors in the Fiscal Year 2021, and 152,057 in FY 2022. So far this fiscal year, which began Oct. 1, border authorities have already encountered 91,380 unaccompanied minors at the southern border.