The Biden administration is still holding nearly 25,000 migrant children in custody, apart from their families, according to immigration officials.
The number of unaccompanied minors being detained by the federal government along the southern border is at an all-time high, surpassing the number of children held by the Trump administration during last first major family separation controversy in 2018.
The Department of Health and Human Services Office of Refugee Resettlement, which is responsible for housing and caring for unaccompanied migrant children, reported on May 4 that 22,195 children were being held in HHS facilities along the border, which is more than at any other time in U.S. history.
Most of these children are being held in the same facilities that Democrats compared to “cages” and “concentration camps” during the Trump administration.
Biden’s HHS has acknowledged that the facilities are not suitable for children, but have blamed the Trump administration for handing them the crisis at the border.
One of the Biden administration’s only proposed solutions to the crisis has been to award shelter-construction and management contracts to private companies that might not even be equipped to adequately care for minors, according to immigration experts.
“When we are spending hundreds of millions of dollars, the government has to ensure that the services are being provided and that we are meeting the needs of the children,” said Scott H. Amey, general counsel at the Project on Government Oversight, a private watchdog group.
Sarah DeYoung, a University of Delaware professor who studies evacuation shelters, worries many of the sites have a “very institutional setting feel” that is not optimal for children.
“Just because those were selected in the past doesn’t mean they are doing it well in terms of children’s well-being,” DeYoung said. “It is critical that there would still be an outside assessment … including public health experts and people who have pediatric expertise.”