The number of migrant children in the government’s custody is at it’s highest point ever, the New York Times reported Wednesday based on data members of Congress shared with the paper.
This month, 12,800 children were in government-contracted shelters, in the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services, up from 2,400 in May of last year.
Arrest rates at the border have stayed roughly the same, the Times said. Rather, the Trump administration’s new policy requiring the fingerprinting of family members who wish to take children out of HHS custody appears to have massively slowed the process of releasing children from the shelters.
Fingerprints shared with the government can be accessed by immigration enforcement agents, and many potential sponsors are themselves undocumented and fear deportation.
The Times, citing unnamed people familiar with the system, said the spike in children in the government’s custody came from relatives being discouraged from sponsoring children.
The government just announced it would expand it’s 360-bed “tent city” in Tornillo, Texas to fit 3,600 beds.