The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released nearly 15,000 unaccompanied migrant children to sponsors within the United States in July. There are more than 16,000 still in the custody of the federal government.
During the month of July, HHS released an average of 500 unaccompanied migrant children to sponsors each day.
As the releases were taking place, the flow of children entering illegally continued. On average, 484 were arrested crossing the border daily. More than 14,500 arrests were reported by HHS for the month of July—creating little better than a wash on rolling detention totals.
According to a source within CBP, many children, mostly teens, are sent into the United States by parents or other relatives to avoid expulsion under the Trump era CDC COVID-19 emergency order. Once the child is in HHS care, the relative will enter the United States illegally and claim the child to begin the family re-unification process.
The number of unaccompanied migrant children who have entered the United States illegally this fiscal year is staggering. According to CBP, 95,079 have been apprehended since October. This is a nearly 200 percent increase over the 33,329 arrested in 2020.
Health and Human Services opened more than a dozen emergency intake sites to deal with the influx of children. These facilities make use of vacant oilfield man camps and COVID-shuttered convention centers throughout the United States.
Unlicensed facilities have faced criticism due to insufficient staffing, drinking water issues, and COVID-19 protections. Earlier this year, Texas Governor Greg Abbott sharply criticized the Biden Administration over conditions at multiple HHS detention facilities, specifically citing a water issue in Midland plus a COVID-19 outbreak in Carrizo Springs.
HHS estimates the cost to detain a child is $775 per day. In other long-term facilities, they indicate that cost to be approximately $275 per day. Based on these estimates and the number of UACs currently in custody, the cost to the American taxpayer stands at more than $6 million daily.
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.