US: Big drop in migrant kids at largest emergency shelter

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The number of migrant children housed at the Biden administration’s largest emergency shelter for those who crossed the U.S.-Mexico border alone has dropped by more than 40% since mid-June, a top U.S. official said Monday, touting progress at the facility that has been criticized by child welfare advocates.

Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra told reporters that 790 boys were housed at Fort Bliss Army base in El Paso, Texas, and the last girl left Monday. All the girls were reunited either with relatives in the U.S. or a sponsor such as a family friend or sent to licensed facilities, which have a higher standard of care, according to the agency responsible for caring for migrant children.

In mid-June, the administration reported about 2,000 boys and girls were at the Fort Bliss facility amid child welfare advocates’ concerns about inadequate conditions. A high of 4,800 children were housed there in May.

Becerra said his agency was evaluating whether it can close some of the emergency shelters that the government opened in the spring as record numbers of unaccompanied children crossed the border. He declined to say whether Fort Bliss would be among them.

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