HARLINGEN, Texas (KVEO) — On Tuesday, the Office of Refugee Resettlement announced that as part of the solutions of the Biden administration, unaccompanied children will be moved out of U.S. Customs and Border Protection facilities as quickly as possible.
Fort Bliss Emergency Intake Site near El Paso will welcome the first 500 unaccompanied minors from ages 13 to 17. According to a press release, they will shelter for boys, and they will receive a brief medical check, needed clothes, toiletries, food and snacks, and a “safe place to rest.”
The Fort Bliss EIS has the capacity to shelter 5,000 people. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the ORR are working to increase bed capacity to 13,500.
“Additional capacity is urgently needed to manage both enhanced COVID-19 mitigation strategies and the increasing numbers of [unaccompanied children] referrals from CBP,” stated the press release. “HHS is aggressively working with its interagency partners to ensure that [unaccompanied children] are safe and unified with family members or other suitable sponsors as quickly and safely as possible.”
The EIS only a temporary measure, and all children will be screened for COVID-19 CDC guidelines will be followed.
In the short-term, HHS’ Office on Refugee Resettlement will work to ensure children don’t spend more time in border patrol facilities than necessary by:
–Safely increasing capacity in its permanent/licensed network by implementing enhanced CDC COVID-19 mitigation strategies.
–Safely reducing the time it takes to unify UC with sponsors.
–Using Influx Care Facilities with the same standards of care used in its permanent/licensed network.
–Establishing Emergency Intake Sites to decrease overcrowding in CBP facilities.
“HHS will keep Congress, state, and local officials informed of future actions concerning [unaccompanied children] matters throughout our care-provider network,” stated the press release sent by ORR.