The Biden administration is opening up an overflow facility for unaccompanied migrant children apprehended at the US-Mexico border, the federal agency tasked with the children’s care told CNN in a statement.
The Health and Human Services Department will reactivate a facility in Carrizo Springs, Texas, that can accommodate approximately 700 children, though more capacity may be added if necessary.
The reactivation of the facility comes amid an increase in apprehensions of unaccompanied children on the southwest border and reduced capacity limits at other facilities due to Covid. The move also comes as President Biden prepares to roll out new immigration executive orders tackling migration to the US southern border.
Unaccompanied children who cross the border are taken into custody by the Department of Homeland Security and referred to the Department of Health and Human Services. While in care, case managers work to place a child with a sponsor in the United States, like a parent or relative.
The facility in Carrizo, Texas, will be used for children who are medically cleared from Covid-19 quarantine and will not be used for children under the age of 13, in line with agency policy, according to the Office of Refugee Resettlement, the agency within HHS that is responsible for the care of migrant children.
“HHS is mindful of these children’s vulnerability, and our priority is the safety and wellbeing of each child in our care. HHS anticipates the need to start placing children at Carrizo Springs in 15 days or soon after,” the agency said in a statement, citing limited capacity due in part to Covid-19.