Awareness - August 9 2021 - We Welcome Refugees

Awareness - August 9 2021

More allegations surfaced of poor conditions in shelters for unaccompanied children

Following two whistleblower complaints and disturbing news reports of abuse and mismanagement at the Fort Bliss emergency intake site, new allegations arose last week about another HHS shelter in Pecos, Texas. A New York Times article published on August 6th details  prison-like conditions, distressed children, and long stays at the shelter without access to case managers. The article quotes attorney Jonathan Ryan of the nonprofit organization RAICES as saying the conditions at the Pecos shelter were “among the harshest and most restrictive” of any he has seen in over a decade of working with migrant children.

To speak up on behalf of these vulnerable children, use our action tool to send an email or tweet with your concerns to HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra.

The number of unaccompanied children apprehended by CBP reached new highs

There were 834 children taken into CBP custody on Wednesday -- the highest number since they began issuing daily reports in March, and possibly the highest daily number on record. This brought the total number of children in CBP custody to 2,784 while the number of children in HHS shelters was 14,523.

Chart from WOLA Weekly Border Update


Meanwhile, at least 36 shelters in Texas could lose their state licensing after August 30th due to an executive order issued by Governor Abbott at the end of May. Because of this order, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission has adopted an “emergency rule” that will allow these shelters to continue operating temporarily without state oversight. The emergency rule can remain in effect for up to 120 days, and could then be extended for an additional 60 days.

According to the 1997 Flores Settlement, HHS is required to place unaccompanied children in licensed facilities except in emergency situations when exemptions apply. Earlier this year, the Biden administration threatened to sue the State of Texas over Governor Abbott’s order, but no action has been taken yet. The emergency intake sites that have had serious allegations of mismanagement in recent weeks, including Texas-based shelters at Fort Bliss and Pecos, are also operating without state licenses. 

Refugee admissions are on pace for the lowest number of arrivals since the program began

The updated arrivals data from July 31st showed the total number of refugees admitted in fiscal year 2021 has only reached 6,246. Unless the next two months see extremely increased numbers, resettlement for 2021 will fall below even the historically low 11,814 in fiscal year 2020. Since the passage of the Refugee Act of 1980, the average number of annual refugee admissions has been around 75,000