Washington [US], March 14 (ANI/Sputnik): The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has directed the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to support government efforts to care for unaccompanied minors arriving at the southwestern border, Homeland Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has announced.
"As I have said many times, a Border Patrol facility is no place for a child. We are working in partnership with HHS [Department of Health and Human Services] to address the needs of unaccompanied children, which is made only more difficult given the protocols and restrictions required to protect the public health and the health of the children themselves. Our goal is to ensure that unaccompanied children are transferred to HHS as quickly as possible, consistent with legal requirements and in the best interest of the children," Mayorkas said in a Saturday statement.
According to the release, the DHS has directed FEMA to help care for unaccompanied children arriving at the US-Mexico border over the next 90 days.
"The federal government is working around the clock to move unaccompanied children from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) care and to place them with a family member or sponsor until their immigration case is adjudicated," Mayorkas said.
According to the Saturday statement from DHS, FEMA is now integrated and co-located with HHS to look at "every available option" to find appropriate lodging for unaccompanied minors.
"The workforce of DHS, including CBP, the Federal Protective Service, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and volunteers from across the Department through the DHS Volunteer Force, will help to provide shelter capacity, security, and other support as needed," the DHS said.
Earlier this week, an HHS spokesperson told Sputnik that a total of 8,800 migrant children who came to the United States alone were in federal care facilities. On February 18, there were about 6,800 unaccompanied migrant children under the care of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR).
The United States has seen an influx of unaccompanied migrant children apprehended at the US-Mexico border since October.
In a fact sheet released on March 1, the HHS said that the average length of time migrant children spend in US federal care facilities is 42 days.
Data from US Customs and Border Protection shows that 9,457 unaccompanied migrant children were apprehended at the southern US border in February, which is a substantial increase from the 5,858 unaccompanied migrant children apprehended in January. (ANI/Sputnik)