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Immigration

Migrant Children Sleep Outside Due to Lack of HHS Resources

A large group of 376 migrants wait to be processed after being detained by U.S. Customs and Border Protection after crossing the United States- Mexico border near Yuma, Ariz., January 14, 2019. (Customs and Border Protection/Handout via Reuters )

Migrant children are increasingly resorting to sleeping outside of border patrol stations because the agency charged with sheltering them, the Department of Health and Human Services, has been overwhelmed by the influx of asylum-seekers, NBC News reported Tuesday.

HHS, which is reportedly operating at 97 percent capacity, is responsible for caring for the record number of migrant children that are arriving at the border each day until they can be placed with a sponsor. As reports of a humanitarian crisis at the border continue to mount, HHS officials have urged Congress to provide more resources for the provision of medical care and shelter.

As of May 31, 1,448 unaccompanied migrant children have remained in border patrol custody for at least 72 hours, the maximum time allotted by law, while waiting to be transferred to HHS, according to NBC News.

In total, 1,402 unaccompanied migrant children have been processed by border patrol and are now waiting to be transferred to a HHS facility, where are they supposed to receive a bed and support from a social worker.

The children often resort to sleeping on concrete slabs or outside the border patrol stations while they await transfer to an HHS facility that corresponds to their gender and age. The influx of women and children arriving at the border in recent months has delayed this process as HHS lacks adequate housing to accommodate a population that is no longer comprised mostly of single adult males as it once was.

Trump administration officials have long urged Congress to provide a short-term solution in the form of additional funding for the creation of new, soft-sided shelters and increased manpower while in the long-term pursuing legislative reforms that will give border patrol greater autonomy to deter illegitimate asylum-seekers at the border.

Testifying before the House Homeland Security Committee in May, acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan cited a devastating lack of resources when asked to explain the deaths of six migrant children in federal custody since December.

“They’re happening because the crisis is exceeding the resources provided. That’s why we’ve asked for more and we’ve asked for more authority to prevent this crisis from happening in the first place and to prevent the children from being placed at risk,” he said.

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