U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Unaccompanied Migrant Children Arrive at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland Site

The site will provide shelter for 13 to 17-year-old boys and can hold up to 372 beds

Flickr/Paul L. McCord Jr

About 100 unaccompanied migrant children arrived at the Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland Emergency Intake Site on Saturday, the first group to be sheltered at the facility.

The site, which was announced in March, is part of an effort from the Biden administration to move migrant children out of U.S. Customs and Border Protection facilities.

The site will provide shelter for 13 to 17-year-old boys and can hold up to 372 beds, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Administration for Children and Families.

The federal department said Saturday that the children would receive a medical check and be given clothing, toiletries, food, snacks and a place to rest. COVID-19 health screening protocol would also be established.

Children will be housed temporarily at the site until they can be released to a sponsor or transferred to an Office of Refugee Resettlement shelter for longer-term care, the department said.

"While HHS' Office of Refugee Resettlement has worked to build up its licensed bed capacity to care for unaccompanied children, additional capacity is urgently needed to manage the increasing numbers of unaccompanied children referrals from CBP," the department said in a statement. "HHS is aggressively working with its interagency partners to ensure that unaccompanied children are safe and unified with family members or other suitable sponsors as quickly and safely as possible."

Contractors and federal staff, including those from the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response and the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, are charged with caring for the children, the department said.

HHS has opened other sites across Texas amid a sharp increase in crossings of unaccompanied children at the southern border.

The sites include the Dallas location at Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center, and other facilities in Carrizo Springs, Midland, San Antonio, Houston, Pecos, Donna, and Fort Bliss.

Additional sites have been set up in Michigan, Pennsylvania and California.

On Sunday, HHS announced the Emergency Intake Site for Unaccompanied Children operated by the National Association of Christian Churches in Houston was being closed and the 450 girls housed there immediately moved.

Texas child welfare officials recently said they received three reports alleging abuse and neglect at a San Antonio facility that is holding more than 1,600 immigrant teenagers who crossed the southern border.

The U.S. government last month stopped taking immigrant teenagers to one site in Midland as it faced questions about the safety of the emergency sites.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Contact Us