US will close 4 emergency shelters for migrant children

Jun 29, 2021, 2:51 PM | Updated: 7:05 pm
File-This May 22, 2021, file photo shows the Long Beach Convention Center that is being used as a t...

File-This May 22, 2021, file photo shows the Long Beach Convention Center that is being used as a temporary shelter facility for immigrant children in Long Beach, Calif. U.S. Officials are closing four emergency facilities, two in Texas and two in California, set up to house migrant children caught crossing the border alone. But officials, Tuesday, June 29, 2021, cautioned that minors continue to arrive on the southwest border despite the summer heat. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)

(AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)

U.S. officials will close four emergency facilities set up to house record numbers of migrant children crossing the Mexican border alone but cautioned Tuesday that minors were still arriving.

The Department of Health and Human Services will shut two facilities in Texas and two at convention centers in California by early August, Aurora Miranda-Maese, juvenile coordinator for the agency’s office of refugee resettlement, said during a court hearing about custody conditions for migrant children.

Four of the large-scale shelters will remain open, including one that has faced criticism from immigrant advocates at Fort Bliss Army Base in El Paso, Texas, she said. Others are in Albion, Michigan; Pecos, Texas; and Pomona, California, she said.

U.S. officials have reported a recent drop in the number of children held in emergency facilities, including a more than 40% decline at Fort Bliss since mid-June. Miranda-Maese said more children are being released to relatives in the U.S. or being sent to state-licensed shelters, which have a higher standard of care.

The emergency sites were set up by the Biden administration this spring to handle a rise in the number of children arriving on the southern border alone, many fleeing violence in Central America and seeking to reunite with relatives in the United States.

Henry A. Moak Jr., juvenile coordinator for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, said it isn’t clear whether that’s about to change despite the summer heat.

“It appears the numbers are still going up,” he told the court. “I don’t know if the hot weather is going to deter that at all.”

Health and Human Services cares for the children until they can be sent to live with relatives in the United States. The agency has about 15,000 children in its care, and fewer than 3,000 in emergency facilities, Miranda-Maese said. But she noted that the number of children received from border authorities has increased in the past week.

“That’s concerning because this is definitely a very difficult and challenging time to be crossing the border,” she said.

Miranda-Maese recognized the challenges at Fort Bliss and said the facility was being reconfigured to a more child-friendly pod system with single cots instead of doubles. She said officials also are working to improve the system to screen relatives more quickly so children can go live with them.

Her comments came during a hearing in a federal court in Los Angeles that oversees a longstanding settlement governing custody conditions for immigrant children.

In recent filings to the court, more than a dozen children described their desperation to get out of the emergency facilities. In one account, a teenage girl said she had been at Fort Bliss for nearly 60 days and could hardly sleep at night because the lights were always on and she resorted to eating only popsicles and juice because the food was foul.

Carlos Holguin, an attorney for the children, said advocates were concerned that well-run facilities like one at the Long Beach Convention Center were being shut down while Fort Bliss will remain open. He also said it wasn’t clear which children were sent to state-licensed shelters, which are governed by different standards, and which are sent to the emergency sites.

Officials are expected to file updates to the court in July. Another hearing is scheduled for August.


Taxin reported from Orange County, California.


Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


FILE- Indian Border Security Force (BSF) soldiers patrol near the India-Pakistan border fencing at ...
Associated Press

At 75, India’s Kashmir challenge shifts foreign policy focus

SRINAGAR, India (AP) — For decades, India has tried to thwart Pakistan in a protracted dispute over Kashmir, the achingly beautiful Himalayan territory claimed by both countries but divided between them. That relentless competition made Pakistan always the focus of New Delhi’s foreign policy. But in the last two years, since a deadly border clash […]
22 hours ago
An election official holds up ballots for other officials and party agents to see, as they start to...
Associated Press

Kenyans waiting for results of close presidential election

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Kenyans are waiting for the results of a close but calm presidential election in which the turnout was lower than usual. Tuesday’s election was likely the final try by longtime opposition leader Raila Odinga, who on his fifth attempt was backed by former rival and outgoing President Uhuru Kenyatta. The other […]
22 hours ago
FILE - Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos talks to reporters March 16, 2022, in Madison, Wis. Vos...
Associated Press

Wisconsin Assembly leader Vos beats Trump-backed challenger

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin’s most powerful Republican narrowly survived being targeted by Donald Trump in Tuesday’s primary, then said his win proved that lawmakers “don’t have to be a lapdog to whatever Donald Trump says.” Robin Vos, the longest-serving speaker in the state’s history, overcame intense criticism from Trump and others that he hadn’t […]
22 hours ago
FILE - In this photo provided by China's Xinhua News Agency, a People's Liberation Army member look...
Associated Press

China reaffirms threat of military force to annex Taiwan

BEIJING (AP) — China on Wednesday reaffirmed its threat to use military force to bring self-governing Taiwan under its control, amid threatening Chinese military exercises that have raised tensions between the sides to their highest level in years. The statement issued by the Cabinet’s Taiwan Affairs Office and its news department followed almost a week […]
22 hours ago
FILE - President Joe Biden shakes hands with veteran John Caruso as Biden tour's the Fort Worth VA ...
Associated Press

Veterans health bill marks a personal victory for Biden

WASHINGTON (AP) — As President Joe Biden rattled off policy proposals in this year’s State of the Union address, he hit an emotional note when talking about veterans who suffer from cancer after serving on military bases where toxic smoke billowed from burning trash. “One of those soldiers was my son Maj. Beau Biden,” he […]
22 hours ago
FILE - Niklas Hoehne, from left, New Climate Institute Cologne, Luisa Neubauer, Fridays for Future ...
Associated Press

‘We’re back, baby’: New bill boosts US climate credibility

WASHINGTON (AP) — After a moment when hopes dimmed that the United States could become an international leader on climate change, legislation that Congress is poised to approve could rejuvenate the country’s reputation and bolster its efforts to push other nations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions more quickly. The head-snapping turn of events, which has […]
22 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Mayo Clinic Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

Why your student-athlete’s physical should be conducted by a sports medicine specialist

Dr. Anastasi from Mayo Clinic Orthopedics and Sports Medicine in Tempe answers some of the most common questions.
(Courtesy Condor)...
Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines shows passion for destinations from Sky Harbor with new-look aircraft

Condor Airlines brings passion to each flight and connects people to their dream destinations throughout the world.
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Most plumbing problems can be fixed with regular maintenance

Instead of waiting for a problem to happen, experts suggest getting a head start on your plumbing maintenance.
US will close 4 emergency shelters for migrant children