According to Health and Human Services, the federal government is detaining more than 20,000 unaccompanied migrant children nationwide.
To accommodate the latest surge, HHS opened 13 new detention facilities since March 1 and are designed to house the children until sponsors receive them.
According to the latest HHS data, they hold 16,000 unaccompanied children and another 4,000 are about to be transferred from Border Patrol custody. The HHS estimates the cost to detain a child in the newest facilities, which they refer to as Emergency Intake Sites (EIS), is $775 per day. In other long-term facilities, they indicate that cost to be approximately $275 per day. The temporary shelter numbers are those in excess of 13,500 permanent facility beds, meaning the agency is spending nearly $4 million a day on long-term UACs and nearly $2 million per day on EIS shelters. This does not account for the expenditures by the Border Patrol to detain the additional 4,000 UACs.
According to HHS, the EIS shelters being brought into service will provide required standards of care for children, such as providing clean and comfortable sleeping quarters, meals, toiletries, laundry, and access to medical services. A COVID-19 health screening protocol for all children will reportedly be implemented to follow CDC guidelines for preventing and controlling communicable diseases. Services will be provided by a combination of contractors and federal staff – including teams from the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response and the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps.