Uncle Sam Plays a Shell Game With More Migrant Children

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) boss Alejandro Mayorkas recently patted himself on the back for a sharp reduction of illegal alien minors in DHS custody. But the Associated Press reports that the number of migrant children in government detention more than doubled to 21,000 in the past two months.

With the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) now handling housing, the Biden administration is relying on large-scale unlicensed emergency facilities inside military installations, stadiums and convention centers, skirting state regulations and legal oversight.

Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, said the human shell game starts in his border district. “All they’re doing is moving kids from one [DHS] tent to the other [HHS] tent.”

HHS declines to say if there are legally enforceable standards for accommodating children at its emergency sites or how they are monitored. The agency would not comment on any efforts to track released minors, as required by law.

The Trump administration effectively closed the U.S.-Mexico border to all migrants, citing public health concerns about COVID-19. Now unaccompanied alien children (UACs) are allowed entry to seek asylum, so parents send kids across the border alone.

One veteran social worker says she’s never seen the situation so bad. “Children are coming out sick, with COVID, infested with lice, and it will not surprise me to see children dying as a consequence,” said Amy Cohen, executive director of the nonprofit Every. Last. One.

The AP, citing confidential administration sources, counted more than 17,650 UACs in facilities with 100 or more children. A big holding center in Houston abruptly closed after it was revealed that children were given plastic bags instead of access to restrooms. Many smaller shelters, private homes housing handfuls of kids, do not provide access to education or recreation.

HHS says the average length of stay has dropped from four months last fall to less than a month. Yet the AP relates continuing allegations of abuse and neglect. Separately, whistleblowers charged that human traffickers absconded with children from a 2,000-bed government shelter in San Antonio.

Last week, reports surfaced about migrant youths confined to buses parked outside the Dallas convention center, where a 3,000-bed facility was filled to capacity. Administration officials called that “completely unacceptable.”

With Washington spending $62 million a week to house migrant minors – some in squalid, insecure conditions — Mayorkas and the rest of Team Biden have nothing to cheer about.

About Author


Bob Dane, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR)'s Executive Director, has been with FAIR since 2006. His deep belief is that immigration is the most transformational determinant of where we are heading as a nation and that our policies must be reformed in the public interest. Over many years on thousands of radio, TV and print interviews, Bob has made the case that unless immigration is regulated and sensibly reduced, it will be difficult for America to reduce unemployment, increase wages, improve health care and education and heighten national security. Prior to joining FAIR, Bob spent twenty years in network radio, marketing and communications after an earlier career in policy and budgeting within the Reagan Administration. Bob has a degree from George Mason University in Public Administration and Management.