The government projects that by September, about 22,000 to 26,000 unaccompanied minors will arrive at the border each month and require federal care.
The Biden administration appears to be spending at least $60 million per week to care for the more than 16,000 migrant teenagers and children in shelters operated by the Department of Health and Human Services, and those costs are expected to rise significantly over the coming months, according to an analysis of government data obtained by The Washington Post.
With a record number of unaccompanied minors arriving at the border in the past several weeks, HHS quickly filled the 7,700 available beds in its network of permanent shelters, where the cost of caring for a child is about $290 daily and capacity has been reduced by covid protocols.
The administration has raced to set up at least 10 large emergency facilities, creating 16,000 temporary beds for migrant children in convention centers, converted oil worker camps and on military bases. About 8,500 children are living at these pop-up sites, and 4,000 more are waiting to be transferred from cramped border facilities.
The cost of these emergency sites is more than 2½ times higher than the more-permanent shelters “due to the need to develop facilities quickly and hire significant staff over a short period of time,” said Kenneth Wolfe, a spokesman for HHS’s Administration for Children and Families. He said the average daily cost per child is “approximately $775 per day based on past experience.”
BY NICK MIROFF, THE WASHINGTON POST with Texas Tribune.
Photo: Unaccompanied migrant boys at the CBP migrant processing center in El Paso on March 29, 2021. Credit: Ivan Pierre Aguirre for The Texas Tribune