A New Shelter for Unaccompanied Children opened in Long Beach, CA, bringing the number of emergency shelters to 13
While the Houston HHS shelter for girls was abruptly closed last weekend, a new shelter opened this week in the Long Beach Convention Center in California. The latest of over a dozen emergency shelters opened since Biden took office, this one is set to house up to 1,000 children including girls ages 17 and under, and boys under 12. A group of immigration attorneys were allowed to tour the new shelter on Thursday, and they reported positive conditions including classrooms, recreation areas, and even a store for children to “shop” for clothes when they arrive.
The number of unaccompanied children in CBP fell to 1,741 on Thursday, the lowest level seen in months
On Thursday, April 22, there were 23,013 children in the custody of the U.S. government. While the number of children in CBP custody has dropped since last week, the number of children housed within HHS facilities has increased to 21,272. On Thursday, 431 additional children were added to CBP custody but 917 were transferred from CBP to HHS. This is a vast improvement over the 30 day average of 661 transfers. The number of children released from HHS was 401. These numbers show a positive trend after months of very high numbers of children in jail-like CBP facilities, and slow rates of transfers from those facilities into the more child-friendly ORR shelters.
The Bipartisan Border Solutions Act was introduced in the Senate
This bill introduced by John Cornyn and Kyrsten Sinema would set up 4 regional processing centers along the U.S.-Mexico border to process migrants faster. These processing centers would coordinate efforts between multiple agencies including CBP, ORR, FEMA, USCIS, and ICE and would be under the supervision of CBP. It would also develop a 3-year pilot program to expedite asylum processing and would prioritize certain asylum cases when the attorney general and DHS designate an “irregular migration surge event.” The bill would expand the Legal Orientation Program and require greater protections for access to counsel, but does not provide funding for counsel. The bill also adds additional funding for immigration judges, USCIS asylum officers, and additional personnel for ICE and CBP. Furthermore, it adds enhanced background check and security measures for vetting sponsors for unaccompanied children.
Human Rights First issued a statement against certain aspects of the bill, arguing that the processing centers and focus on rapidly conducting credible fear interviews “would lead to the immediate deportation of refugees seeking protection despite their legitimate fears of persecution.”
The NO BAN Act and the Access to Counsel Act of 2021 passed in the House of Representatives
The NO BAN Act would prohibit travel bans based on religion and would provide more Congressional oversight to future bans issued by a President. The Access to Counsel Act ensures access to legal counsel for U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, visa holders, returning asylees, and refugees when they are subject to inspection upon entry into the country.