New York, NY – The Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) is concerned about the Administration’s decision to reopen a temporary influx shelter in Texas for unaccompanied immigrant children. We are concerned that this may mark a return to temporary measures that have resulted in added trauma and abuse for this extremely vulnerable population.
Unlike the permanent shelters for migrant children, influx facilities are not subject to the same child health and welfare standards and have been the sites of some of the worst conditions and systemic abuses that have taken place over the past few years.
JCPA understand that the Health and Human Services Department has halved capacity at its permanent facilities due to COVID-19 and that temporary measures are sometimes required to address bottlenecks in the system and prevent children from remaining in Customs and Border Patrol custody. We urge the Administration to move away from the detention model to long-term solutions for handling the fluctuating rates of child migration that ensures children spend as little time as possible in any detention setting and are swiftly reunited with family members or other sponsors in the U.S. It is crucial that Congress place guardrails on the use of influx shelters, while also ensuring that the Office of Refugee Resettlement, which is responsible for unaccompanied minors, has the funding and resources needed to care for these children properly.
JCPA is heartened that the Office of Refugee Resettlement—which is responsible for unaccompanied minors—is assessing alternatives to influx facilities and we will be closely monitoring the situation to ensure that the Administration adheres to the same child health and welfare standards required for permanent shelters, as it has promised.