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End Migrant Warehousing

Image by Nitish Meena.

The Biden-Harris administration is opening multiple detention camps to warehouse migrant kids. Thousands of unaccompanied children will go to military barracks at Fort Bliss, as the president seemed proud to announce to the press. The McAllen border patrol outpost where the Trump administration infamously separated families is currently closed—but not forever. For renovations.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has custody of 11,800 minors, at more than 100 sites nationwide. HHS receives children from the Customs and Border Protection (CBP), a component of the Department of Homeland Security. The HHS’s Office of Refugee Resettlement quarantines unaccompanied minors, and then holds these kids until they turn 18 or are deported, unless relatives or other sponsors can be found to house them for the duration of their immigration court cases.

The HHS website claims: “Every effort is made to ensure minors can communicate (via telephone or video) at least twice per week.” To whom? To a child, the wait must seem interminable. In FY 2020, migrant children waited, on average, 102 days.

Amnesty International USA asks the administration to use only licensed sites. The group’s tepid prose says “it will take time to move away from the system” that Joe Biden “inherited” from others. Donald Trump used notorious scare tactics that included wresting kids from their parents and depositing them in cages. But Trump’s spite for migrants went as far as it did because an established system allowed it.

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