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Overcrowded border prisons give way to shelters for packed migrant children

But the Biden administration has yet to resolve one of the border system’s most worrying bottlenecks: quickly and safely releasing minors from shelters for approved sponsors in the United States. The process is to ensure that children are released to safe situations and to try to minimize the time they spend in government custody, said Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, director general of the Lutheran Immigration Service. and refugees.

The Biden administration also said many sponsors were afraid to come forward to claim minors after a Trump-era program forced the Department of Health to share background information about all adults in the potential household. ‘a child with immigration and customs services. President Biden canceled the program.

On Friday, the Department of Health and Human Services said, time spent in government custody improved significantly from an average of 42 days when Mr Biden took office to the current stay of around a month. As of Thursday, 775 children were released from government care, about 300 more than what was released last week. But border officials are signaling the need for more case managers to help get children out of government custody, even though federal employees from other agencies have already been deployed to fill in the gaps.

The Department of Health and Human Services also said there was no immediate risk of running out of money to care for migrant children. The additional $ 850 million the program received this week, the ministry said, was to cover pandemic-related costs for testing and other precautions. And the need for additional funds was not a new issue, the ministry said, and it pointed to a demand of nearly $ 3 billion in 2019 from the Trump administration when there was a similar influx of migrants.

“The Unaccompanied Children Program has long relied on remittances to fulfill its mission, and this year faces the additional expense of rebuilding a decimated system while taking pandemic-related safety precautions, such as testing and social distancing, ”Mark Weber, a spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services, said in a statement Friday.

Mr Biden blames the Trump administration’s restrictive immigration policies for leaving his team ill-equipped to deal with the wave of migrants this spring. When migrants – mostly from Central America fleeing poverty, violence and natural disasters – began arriving in large numbers at the southwest border, the government did not have enough shelters to safely accommodate children who arrived alone.

So far, the Biden administration has not asked Congress for an emergency spending bill, which could distract Senate Democrats from passing immigration legislation. A 2019 request for more funding for the border situation sparked a bitter fight in Congress, and a new request would most likely fuel criticism from Republicans who have made it clear they intend to seize the border policies of Mr. Biden to galvanize their party. base before the midterm elections

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