Since February 2021, the number of unaccompanied foreign children (UACs) illegally crossing the border is 243,850. During the last government’s fiscal year 2020, 34,126 UACs were encountered. The surge has cost taxpayers more than $6 billion in 2021 alone.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), an average of 350 UACs are arrested each day by Customs and Border Protection, including Border Patrol. HHS is responsible for custodial UACs from countries other than Mexico in order to find sponsors within the United States. HHS then releases the minor pending a final decision on their immigration case. According to HHS, the 30-day average is 368 posts per day.
In fiscal 2021, more than 127,000 UACs were transferred to HHS.According to Congressional Research Service Report, funding for unaccompanied alien children in 2021 was initially set at $1.3 billion. The report noted that HHS reportedly diverted about $2.1 billion from other health-related programs to cover the cost of the UAC surge that year.
According to the report, redirected funding includes $850 million for rebuilding the strategic national stockpile, $850 million for COVID-19 testing and $436 million for several HHS health programs. In addition, the Biden administration reportedly estimated in May 2021 that an additional $4 billion would be needed to fund shelters and provide reunification services to find sponsors for children by the end of the 2021 fiscal year. HHS has not released an exact calculation of the total spending.
Although the released unaccompanied immigrant children were expected to show up in subsequent immigration proceedings, the report indicated that the vast majority did not. Of the more than 41,000 cases adjudicated between 2017 and 2021, a fraction of the total number of cases referred to HHS, 25,638 resulted in removal orders. More than 19,000 of the total eviction orders were absent.
The sudden increase in unaccompanied immigrant children under President Biden came after an immediate change in border enforcement policy. Almost immediately, the Biden administration stopped deporting children under the CDC Emergency Title 42 order.
The order that once resulted in the almost immediate deportation of most UACs to Mexico prevented most illegal border crossing attempts. According to HHS, in fiscal 2021, the primary nationalities of unaccompanied children were Guatemala (47%), Honduras (32%) and El Salvador (13%). Only 8% of the remaining UACs came from other countries.
During the previous administration, the UACs in these three countries could have been expelled under the CDC’s Article 42 emergency order.
As Breitbart, Texas reported, the surge has led to the creation of many facilities across the country to house UACs. Unaccompanied migrant children in temporary shelters cost more than $750 a day.
As of Wednesday, there were approximately 10,293 unaccompanied migrant children in HHS care. As of the end of April 2022, the average detention time per migrant child was 28 days.
Randy Clark A 32-year veteran of the U.S. Border Patrol. Before retiring, he served as Chief of Law Enforcement Operations, directing operations at nine Border Patrol stations in the Del Rio District of Texas. Follow him on Twitter @RandyClarkBBTX.