Biden administration expects to rely on Trump-era private detention facility to hold migrant teenagers at the border
Kaylee Greenlee, DCNF
- The Department of Health and Human Services refused to say whether the conditions at the private facility will be different than they were under the Trump administration.
- The private facility will host up to 700 migrants in hard-sided structures with the option to expand into soft structures if necessary.
- The Biden administration expects to need the private facility to house unaccompanied migrant teens in the next two weeks.
A Trump-era temporary private facility for holding unaccompanied migrant teenagers will reopen at the southern border as the Biden administration anticipates it will be needed within the next two weeks.
The spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human (HHS) Administration for Children and Families declined to answer when asked how the Biden administration’s treatment of detained children would differ from conditions during the Trump administration and instead pointed to President Joe Biden’s executive order on reuniting separated families.
“As you are keenly aware, last week, President Biden signed the Executive Order on the Establishment of Interagency Task Force on the Reunification of Families, which outlines actions the new administration will take on this key issue,” the spokesperson told the Daily Caller News Foundation Wednesday. “HHS is looking forward to working with the Biden Administration on matters related to this and other critical topics.”
The Biden presidency has started by REDUCING financial help for struggling Americans, REFUSING to give everyone healthcare, and REOPENING more child cages.
— Peter Daou (@peterdaou) February 6, 2021
The Carrizo Springs Influx Care Facility (ICF) in southern Texas was constructed by the Trump administration in June 2019 and can temporarily house around 700 children in hard-sided structures with the ability to hold overflow in soft-sided structures, the spokesperson told the Daily Caller News Foundation. Migrants have not been sheltered at the facility since late July 2019 and children under the age of 13 will not be permitted to stay at the facility.
“Utilizing temporary ICFs is one step to prevent UAC from remaining in CBP [Customs and Border Protection] facilities for longer than necessary, and ensure that children are placed in an appropriate setting where they can receive care and services, such as education, medical and mental health care, counseling, recreation, and access to legal services,” a spokesperson for the HHS Administration for Children and Families (ACF) told the DCNF.
The private facility was previously a camp for oil workers before it was remodeled to host migrant teens so they did not have to remain at Border Patrol facilities, an NBC affiliate reported. The facility includes a full medical clinic where kids can receive vaccines, a center where they can make international calls, 24/7 access to immigration lawyers, and several classrooms.
The BCFS Health and Human Services, a non-profit based in Texas was issued a $300 million grant from the HHS to construct the private facility after conditions at CBP owned facilities were heavily criticized, according to the San Antonio Report. Each migrant costs between $750 and $800 per day, BCFS CEO Kevin Dinnin said.
“I hate this mission,” Dinnin said in July 2019, The Washington Post reported. “The only reason we do it is to keep the kids out of the Border Patrol jail cells.”
Detained UAC’s and families were dangerously overcrowded and did not have access to showers or hot meals, according to a July 2019 report by then-Acting Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
Democratic Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib said, “Mr. Speaker we do have a crisis at our border. It is one of morality. As we have seen this current strategy unfold intentionally and cruelly created by the Trump administration dead set on sending a hate-filled message that those seeking refuge are not welcome in America. I ask you and beg you not to look away,” video shows.
Biden previously said of migrant detention during a Democratic primary debate, “What Latinos should look at is, comparing this president to the president we have is outrageous, number one.”
He continued, “We didn’t lock people up in cages. We didn’t separate families. We didn’t do all of those things.”
HHS operations have been modified to adhere to CDC COVID-19 guidelines and are quarantining and testing UAC’s upon arrival and practicing social distancing, according to the ACF spokesperson. Around 5,700 unaccompanied minors are currently in the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR).
“The aggressive immigration push by the Biden administration merely meets the checkboxes of fringe open borders advocates and places Americans last amidst a global pandemic and a difficult economic situation,” the Press Secretary Federation for American Immigration Reform Matthew Tragesser told the DCNF.
UAC’s can be released into the interior of the U.S. to stay with “sponsors” designated by their parents as their immigration case proceeds, according to the HHS. The ORR is responsible for vetting potential sponsors and the agency estimates that UAC’s will be released to sponsors within 30 days of arriving at Carrizo Springs, an ACF spokesperson told the DCNF.
CBP, LULAC, and BCFS did not respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.