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Government looks to expand shelter capacity for migrant children as Border Patrol reports growing backlog of cases

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Border Patrol confirms they still have a backlog of kids waiting to be processed.

The Office of Refugee Resettlement under the Department of Health and Human Services takes in unaccompanied children after they are released from Border Patrol custody.

In Donna, construction is underway to create more temporary tents that are supposed to house minors in the long term until they’re matched with a family.

“As the number of children has increased over the past couple of months, the federal government once again is looking to expand shelter capacity in Texas,” said Bee Moorhead, Executive Director of Texas Impact, a nearly 40-year-old faith-based organization.

Moorhead’s organization is concerned about the quality of foster care currently available.

According to HHS, the agency that is taking care of immigrant kids after their release from Border Patrol:

  • • A child who arrives here and has parents in the U.S. will be reunited with their parents
  • • If a child has no parents here, but does have family, they’ll go with them
  • • The care in custody of HHS becomes much longer if the child doesn’t have any family here

“If they don’t have any relatives or they can’t produce any contact information for anybody they’re supposed to go to right away, they move from being in the ICE and DHS system, so they move from being in homeland security, to being kind of a ward of the state basically,” Moorhead said.

The government is now working to expand space for all kids it needs to house, long and short term.

Texas Impact published a report pointing out more than 900 licensing violation among 41 agencies that contract with HHS, calling into question who the government will do business with next.

“Many of those infractions, about a third of them, were serious health and safety violations,” Moorhead said. “Some of them were indicative of child abuse. Some of them were indicative of child sexual abuse.”

Moorhead and her group are calling for more faith-based organizations to be part of the picture.

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