As children continue to cross over the border seeking asylum, the Department of Health and Human Services has announced that they will accommodate the growing number from 1,200 beds to as many as 3,800 at the Tornillo-Guadalupe Land Port of Entry in Texas. The camp was a result of the “zero tolerance” prosecution initiative that President Trump initiated that separated about 2,500 migrant children from their parents. National outrage forced Trump to reverse course and terminate the separations of families, but the numbers continue to increase in recent weeks of families illegally crossing over the border. The latest release of arrest totals will be this Wednesday from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. According to a spokesman for HHS’s Administration for Children and Families said in a statement “Family separation’s resulting from the zero-tolerance policy ended on June 20, 2018 and are not driving this need”.
The agency has reported to have 12,800 minors in its custody, the highest number ever. Typically minors spend an average of 59 days in custody with HHS. The Tornillo site in Texas primarily houses older teens while transporting younger children in its custody to more “permanent” sites among the 100 shelters where migrant children are housed. The conditions at the Tornillo camp according to HHS is that teens sleep in climate-controlled tents and the site offers a range of services including recreational and educational activities.
Teens traveling alone without a parent or younger children sent for by family living in the United States typically turn themselves in to Border Patrol, which is legally required to transfer minors to HHS within 72 hours. Most commonly the migrant children who enter the United States are often seeking refugee from threats to their families by gangs and martyrs. HHS works to identity and locate an adult sponsor who can assume custody while ensuring that the minor will comply with immigration proceedings along with court appointments.
The Department of Homeland Security and HHS has increased concerns that some potential sponsors living in the United States illegally will be to hesitant to come forward, knowing their personal information could be shared with immigration enforcement agents. Then Trump administration has asked the Pentagon to open additional camps and shelters on military bases to accommodate the growing number and longer stays of migrant children in U.S. custody. Taken from the latest DHS statistics, 98 percent of the 31,754 unaccompanied minors from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador who were taken into custody during the 2017 fiscal years are still in the U.S. As of June 30.