Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Feds Begin Preparing for Possible 2015 Surge of Unaccompanied Children Across Border

    Just two days before Christmas, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) took the first step to prepare for a possible "surge" of unaccompanied minors in 2015. HHS posted a Sources Sought notice to gather information on "options for contract surge capacity to shelter and care" for children who enter the country on their own. The Homeland Security Act of 2002 placed the responsibility for such children on HHS instead of the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
    At this point, HHS is not estimating the number of children for which care may be needed in the coming year:
No decisions have been made regarding the need for surge capacity in 2015, but ORR is exploring options available should the need arise. The purpose of the temporary structures with staffing and services is to identify agencies capable of standing-up soft-sided structures, trailers, or other temporary structures that could shelter 100-2,500 children on federally leased or owned land.
    The Washington Post reported in October that homeland security chief Jeh Johnson placed the fiscal 2014 total of unaccompanied children at 68,434. After an enormous surge in the summer months, the numbers fell quickly in the fall. It is not yet clear if President Obama's immigration actions announced in late November have had any impact on that trend.

Note: A version of this post first appeared at The Weekly Standard.

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