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Number of Migrant Children in Custody More Than Doubled in Last Two Months

Migrant children who tested positive for the coronavirus sit on the ground at the Donna Department of Homeland Security holding facility in Donna, Texas, March 30, 2021. (Dario Lopez-Mills/Reuters)

The number of migrant children being held in federal facilities has more than doubled in the last two months, the Associated Press reported on Tuesday.

More than 21,000 migrant children are being held in a network of roughly 200 facilities across two dozen states, according to confidential government data obtained by the AP. Several of the facilities, which are run by the Department of Health and Human Services, currently house more than 1,000 children.

The children range in age from toddlers to teenagers. HHS spokesman Mark Weber said the department is working to keep children safe and healthy.

“HHS has worked as swiftly as possible to increase bed capacity and to ensure potential sponsors can provide a safe home while the child goes through their immigration proceedings,” Weber said in a statement. “As soon as wrap around services — on-site primary care, including childhood immunizations and physicals, case management, phone calls to family members, education, recreation etc — become available as a result of additional infrastructure and staff, they are provided as part of the operation.”

U.S. Customs and Border Protection projected in mid-April that roughly 17,000 unaccompanied minors would be apprehended, down slightly from a record 18,890 encountered in March. Overall detentions in March reached over 170,000, with April expected to see similar levels.

“The reality is that this is a crisis,” Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D., Ariz.) said in comments to KTAR News last week. “We all know it, and the federal government must do more to address this surge of migrants who are coming to the border with increasing numbers each year.”

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Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces and a trained violist.

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