The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released more than 18,000 unaccompanied migrant children to sponsors within the United States in August 2021. Another 16,000 are still federally detained and await similar releases.
During the month of August, HHS released an average of 605 unaccompanied migrant children to sponsors, against another 518 apprehended near border crossing points daily—creating little better than a wash on rolling detention totals.
According to HHS, the numbers do not include children from Mexico. In most cases, those children are immediately returned.
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 minor 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 entered the United States illegally this fiscal year is staggering. According to CBP, 113,791, were apprehended between October and July. This is a nearly 250 percent increase over 2020 totals.
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.
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.