The number of Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC) illegally crossing the border since February 2021 stands at 243,850. In fiscal year 2020 under the previous administration, 34,126 UACs were found. The rise has cost taxpayers more than $6 billion in 2021 alone.
According to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), 350 UACs are apprehended daily by Customs and Border Protection, including the Border Patrol. HHS takes custody of UACs from countries other than Mexico to locate sponsors in the United States. HHS then releases the minors pending a final decision on their immigration cases. According to HHS, the 30-day average of releases is 368 per day.
In fiscal year 2021, more than 127,000 UACs were transferred to HHS. According to a report by the Congressional Research Service, funding for the unaccompanied extraterrestrial children for 2021 was initially $1.3 billion. The report indicates that HHS reportedly transferred about $2.1 billion from other health-related initiatives to cover the costs of the UAC spike during the year.
According to the report, the funds forwarded include $850 million intended to rebuild the strategic national stockpile, $850 million intended for COVID-19 testing and $436 million intended for multiple HHS health initiatives. In addition, the Biden administration reportedly estimated in May 2021 that it would need another $4 billion before FY2021 ended to fund shelters and provide reunification services to find sponsors for the children. An exact accounting of total expenses has not been released by HHS.
While the released unaccompanied migrant children are expected to show up during the next immigration proceedings, the report indicates that the vast majority do not show up. Of the more than 41,000 cases adjudicated between 2017 and 2021, only a fraction of the total referrals to HHS in 25,638 resulted in removal orders. More than 19,000 of the total removal orders were in absentia.
The sudden surge in unaccompanied migrant children when President Biden took office began after immediate changes were made to border enforcement policy. Almost immediately, the Biden administration stopped deporting children under the CDC Emergency Title 42 order.
The order that once resulted in an almost immediate expulsion of most UACs to Mexico discouraged most attempts to illegally cross the border. According to HHS, in fiscal year 2021, the predominant nationalities of unaccompanied minors were from Guatemala (47%), Honduras (32%), and El Salvador (13%). Only 8% of the remaining UACs were from other countries.
During the previous administration, UACs from these three countries would have been subject to eviction under the Title 42 CDC Emergency Order.
As reported by Breitbart Texas, the surge has resulted in the creation of numerous facilities across the country to house the UACs. The cost per day for those unaccompanied migrant children in temporary shelters is over $750.
As of Wednesday, there are approximately 10,293 unaccompanied migrant children in HHS care. At the end of April 2022, the average length of detention per migrant child was 28 days.
Randy Clark is a 32-year veteran of the United States Border Patrol. Before retiring, he was Division Chief for Law Enforcement Operations, leading operations for nine border patrol stations in the Del Rio, Texas sector. Follow him on Twitter @RandyClarkBBTX.