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Texas shelter expects all migrant children will be released within weeks

Posted: 7:08 PM, Jan 04, 2019
Updated: 2019-01-05 00:08:55Z

Officials operating the "tent city" shelter for migrant children in Texas expect children held there to be placed in sponsor homes by January 15.

An official with BCFS, which operates the facility for the Department of Health and Human Services, said the population at Tornillo has been dropping quickly and more children are being released to sponsors since HHS eased background check requirements for adults in those homes.

The number of children has dropped from nearly 3,000 in December to 1,200 on Friday, according to the source.

The official expects the facility to close by January 31 and said that that tents are being taken down and temporary buildings are being removed daily.

However, HHS spokeswoman Evelyn Stauffer said she considers BCFS's numbers to be speculative. She said that any number of factors could delay the outplacement process and that it may take until the end of the month for most of the unaccompanied children to be released to a sponsor.

In December the Trump administration reversed a controversial policy implemented during the summer that immigration advocates said caused thousands of unaccompanied migrant children to remain in shelters for extended periods.

The Department of Health and Human Services would no longer require fingerprint checks for all adult members of a sponsor's household when the sponsor applies to take in unaccompanied minors, a spokesperson for the agency said.

Sponsors must still be fingerprinted and undergo background checks before unaccompanied minors are released into their care, the spokesperson said.