Border Surge: Obama Admin. Opening More Shelters for Unaccompanied Minors

The Obama administration is converting additional facilities in Colorado, Florida, and New Mexico into shelters to house the expected incoming crush of Central American minors arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border.

The Associated Press reports that as many as 1,000 minors will be placed in a warehouse at the Denver Federal Center, another 800 at a Homestead Job Corps site, and 400 at the Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico.

The early months of Fiscal Year 2015 have experienced a dramatic increase in the number of unaccompanied minors apprehended at the border compared to the already high number detained in years past.

From October to November  — the first two months of FY 2015 — 10,588 unaccompanied minors were apprehended at the border —  more than twice the level apprehend during those two months the year prior.

The Department of Health and Human Services — the agency that takes custody of the children until they are placed with family members or sponsors in the U.S. to await immigration hearings — has said it has moved to expand its capacity to house the minors that arrive as a matter of prudence.

According to the AP, with the opening of the three new sites and additional new facilities opened in Texas last month, the housing capacity for unaccompanied children represents a 42 percent increase beyond the 8,400 permanent shelter beds HHS has already used in states largely along the U.S-Mexico border.

The facility in Colorado is expected to begin accepting children in January, the Florida facility could see minors as early as February and the Colorado center is aiming for an April opening date, according to the AP’s report.

The minors typically stay an average of 32 days, according to the AP. The operational cost of maintaining the permanent beds is $223 per bed per day, but the temporary facilities cost more, HHS spokesman Mark Weber said last week according to the AP.

Weber noted that there is not yet a dollar figure for the cost of renovating the new facilities for the children.


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