A news story published on Friday touted the Biden administration’s progress on the unaccompanied migrant children crisis at the border. An 84 percent drop in the number of unaccompanied alien children (UAC) in Border Patrol custody was cited as the administration’s cause for celebration.
In a CNN news story, a White House official, speaking on a condition of anonymity, provided figures showing a reduction from 5767 unaccompanied children on March 28 to 954 as of April 28. These numbers reflect only the movement of the children from CBP custody to Health and Human Services (HHS) Emergency Intake Sites.
As reported by CNN, these statistics are consistent with data provided by HHS. However, they tell only a tiny piece of the story. The truth of the situation, according to HHS data is far from progress or success. In fact, no other statistic showed any reduction other than how many children were shuffled from CBP to HHS custody.
At the start of April, HHS was holding 13,204 unaccompanied alien children. Friday, that number stood at 22,557, a 70% increase. On April 1, HHS only released 244 UACs to sponsors in the United States. On Friday, HHS released 580 UACs to sponsors, over twice their daily rate of releases during the month. In April’s total, over 7,000 UACs were released to sponsors in the United States.
The numbers, according to HHS, bear out the following:
- The number of UACs in the custody of the federal government as a whole rose constantly from one day to the next during the month of April to Friday’s high of 23,347.
- The number of UAC’s released by HHS to sponsors daily rose steadily throughout the month as well to a high of 580 on Friday.
- Despite the efforts to move UACs from Border Patrol custody into HHS Emergency Intake Sites, and to hasten release into the United States, over 30,000 UACs were at one time in the custody of CBP or HHS during the month of April.
The progress touted is merely a shell game of where the children are held, not a reduction in the flow. Since the Biden administration took office, the flow rate of unaccompanied children entering the United States illegally rose by 260 percent from over 5,000 in January to over 18,000 per month in March, according to CBP statistics.
The costs associated with the detention of UACs rose as well. HHS estimates the cost to house each unaccompanied child in an Emergency Intake Site is approximately $775 per day. The cost is lower at other HHS shelters which provide more permanent housing. Based on their cost estimates, daily expenses for the care of the UACs in HHS custody exceed $9 million per day.
HHS has opened 17 Emergency Intake Sites to deal with the influx since March 1. Some have come under scrutiny for COVID-19 and sexual abuse allegations. The situation at the southern border is still a crisis. Overall, the number of migrants arrested is up, got-away numbers are up, and the flow of unaccompanied children shows no signs of slowing.
Randy Clark is a 32-year veteran of the United States Border Patrol. Prior to his retirement, he served as the Division Chief for Law Enforcement Operations, directing operations for nine Border Patrol Stations within the Del Rio, Texas, Sector. Follow him on Twitter @RandyClarkBBTX.