FederalImmigration & BorderBiden Health and Human Services Department Reopens Encampment for Unaccompanied Minors

The Biden administration says the facility is necessary due to the number of beds needed for unaccompanied children.
February 24, 2021
The Biden administration has “reactivated” a temporary encampment for unaccompanied minors in Dimmit County, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced on Monday. 

The Trump administration stopped using the site in July 2019, the month after it opened.

While the press release issued by HHS announcing the decision does not mention tents, PBS NewsHour reported that it is indeed a “tent facility,” one of the types of housing many Democrats including former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX-16) bewailed the Trump administration for using.

HHS attributes the reopening of the Carrizo Springs Influx Care Facility to the inability of the agency’s Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) to provide the number of beds needed in its permanent facilities, which have 13,200 beds authorized to house unaccompanied minors.

The government says the shelter is also necessary to “minimize the time children are in [U.S. Customs and Border Protection] custody.”

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HHS described the accommodations it will be providing to the teenagers, who range in age from 13 to 17, and began arriving at the shelter on Tuesday.

“There are [eight] buildings that have bedrooms in 14 suites, and each suite sleeps eight children for a total of 112 per building,” HHS said in its press release. “There is one additional building that has two wings to accommodate an additional 56 children with two beds per dorm. Dorms are either male or female.”

The unaccompanied children will be provided with food, education, and recreational activities while at the site, which will be protected “from outside entities” by off-duty law enforcement personnel.

“Each child has a plan for case management, visits with mental health clinicians and lawyers. Health care, mental health care, and general child welfare services are available 24/7,” the government added.

In addition, the department says unaccompanied minors at the Carrizo Springs Influx Care Facility will be granted the same legal services as those housed at permanent shelters.

HHS says they are taking precautions to prevent infections and outbreaks of COVID-19, including weekly testing of staff members working at the facility.

New arrivals at the facility will be tested and required to quarantine before congregating with other visitors.

However, statements by local officials in Texas raise questions about how carefully the federal government is enforcing COVID-19 protocols in the context of immigration practices.

The mayor of Del Rio recently worried aloud in a video directed toward President Biden that the release of illegal immigrants in the Del Rio area would exacerbate the pandemic there.

Sheriff A.J. Louderback of Jackson County also said that the administration is not testing illegal immigrants before releasing them into the public.

Children who do not have lawful status who are found in the U.S. without their parents or any other legal guardian available to care for them are considered unaccompanied. The administration says that currently most unaccompanied minors are Guatemalan, Honduran, and Salvadoran.


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Hayden Sparks

Hayden Sparks is a senior reporter for The Texan and a lifelong resident of the Lone Star State. He has coached competitive speech and debate and has been involved in politics since a young age. One of Hayden's favorite quotes is by Sam Houston: "Texas has yet to learn submission to any oppression, come from what source it may."