Department of Health and Human Services / Office of Refugee Resettlement
Unaccompanied minors photographed at a Homestead, Florida, run by HHS.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services confirmed it's scouting vacant properties in or around San Antonio to house unaccompanied migrant children.
Last week, a HHS spokesman told the Associated Press
the Trump administration is mulling property around San Antonio and four other U.S. cities for permanent sites to hold hundreds of unaccompanied migrant children.
Responding to an information request by the Current
, HHS confirmed it's looking for additional sites so it can reduce the potential need for "temporary influx shelters."
"This is the very beginning of a process that includes further assessments and many steps before HHS could potentially use any property in these localities," the agency said. "HHS will continue to keep local and congressional officials informed during the process required before property could potentially be used."
The agency didn't reveal specific property locations or provide estimates for how much the facilities would cost. It did, however, confirm Dallas, Houston, Atlanta and Phoenix are also under consideration.
The administration has faced scalding criticism
from human rights groups and Democratic members of Congress for its detention of asylum seekers at facilities along the Texas-Mexico border. On Wednesday, the mother of a toddler who died weeks after being released from Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody detailed the child's death in emotional testimony
before a U.S. House panel.
In its email response to the Current
, HHS said additional shelters are necessary because of a spike in unaccompanied children crossing the southern border. As of June 10, more than 52,000 unaccompanied minors have been referred to HHS this fiscal year, an increase of over 60% from the same time period for the 2018 fiscal year.
HHS said it has 12,400 unaccompanied minors in custody as of July 8, although it noted that the number changes daily.
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