HHS Opens 2 More Emergency Holding Facilities for Unaccompanied Minors

The Biden administration has opened another two emergency holding facilities used to temporarily house unaccompanied minors who illegally crossed into the United States amid the ongoing crisis at the southern border.

Both facilities are located in Texas and will receive their first group of unaccompanied children on Monday, who will be transferred out of U.S. Customs and Border Protection custody, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office on Refugee Resettlement (ORR).

One of the facilities will be located at Target Lodge Pecos North property in Pecos, Texas, and will take in 125 children on Monday. The Pecos facility will house 13 to 17-year-old boys and girls and has a potential capacity of 2,000 beds.

The other facility will be located at Carrizo Springs, Texas, and will have a potential capacity of 440 beds.

These facilities will join a growing list of emergency intake sites and overflow facilities available to take in unaccompanied minors who enter into the country illegally without an adult.

The administration has been opening up such facilities to address the significant surge of illegal border crossings in recent weeks. It is seeking to build capacity for 13,500 beds, with the potential for additional capacity in order to meet what has been a continuous flow of unaccompanied minors coming across the border.

“HHS is aggressively working with its interagency partners to ensure that UC are safe and unified with family members or other suitable sponsors as quickly and safely as possible,” the department said.

During the month of March, Border Patrol apprehended more than 150,000 illegal border crossers—50,000 more than February—according to former CBP Commissioner Mark Morgan.

A further 30,000 evaded capture, according to Morgan, who has received provisional CBP numbers from internal sources.

Administration’s Messaging

Lawmakers have taken issue with President Joe Biden’s messaging to Central Americans looking opportunities to emigrate to the United States and are calling for urgent action to address what is a growing humanitarian crisis. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) late last week floated the idea of a 90-day moratorium on immigration as a way of sending a message that would discourage those trying to enter the United States illegally.

“Something has to be done and it has to be expedited,” Manchin told reporters at a press conference. “This problem is not going away. This problem will not cure itself, I can assure you, and they’re coming in droves.”

Similarly, Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) is worried that the administration’s message of telling migrants to not come is not getting through.

Biden has repeatedly pleaded with would-be border crossers to stay put in their home countries over the last several weeks. The president has said that his administration is continuing to quickly expel most adults and families under the Title 42 public health order imposed at the start of the COVID-19 outbreak by former President Donald Trump. But the administration is allowing teens and children, at least temporarily, to stay in the country.

Former DHS Chief Chad Wolf previously told The Epoch Times’ American Thought Leaders that he believes Biden’s messaging is “almost too late.”

“You have people that have left their home country 20 days ago, they’re still on this path coming up. We’ll see if some of their messaging actually works. What I found in my experience, U.S. officials, Mexican officials and others will continue to message. You have to continue to message. Its effectiveness is questionable,” Wolf said.

He added that migrants tend to not listen to government officials. Instead, they listen to action and what is going on on the ground.

“Actions speak louder than words in this case, and they can change the messaging but if they don’t change any of their policies and have a different enforcement posture, then again, the crisis is going to continue,” he said.

Meanwhile, the influx at the border has also renewed concerns about suspected terrorists taking advantage of the burgeoning crisis. Federal authorities announced on Monday that border patrol agents in the last two months have apprehended two Yemeni men on the FBI’s Terrorism Watch List and No-Fly list.

The men were apprehended in separate incidents after crossing the border illegally just west of the Calexico Port of Entry in California.

The first man, a 33-year-old, was arrested on Jan. 29. They also found a cellular phone sim card hidden underneath the insole of his shoe, according to CBP. Meanwhile, the second man, a 26-year-old illegal alien, was arrested on March 30.

Tom Ozimek contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times