Biden administration officials have allegedly pressed the Department of Health and Human Services in recent weeks to release unaccompanied minors at a faster rate, Reuters reported Thursday.
White House officials have urged Department of Health and Human Service (HHS) officials in daily phone calls to expedite releases of unaccompanied migrant children occupying shelters to make room for those still in Customs and Border Protection (CBP) custody, according to three officials who participate in daily calls between the agencies, Reuters reported.
HHS officials match unaccompanied migrant minors with sponsors including family members or friends living in the U.S. they can stay with as their case proceeds through immigration court, according to the Office of Refugee Resettlement.
President Joe Biden’s Domestic Policy Adviser Susan Rice and Senior Migration Adviser Amy Pope are among the officials who pressured HHS, two of the three officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity said, Reuters reported. Rice reportedly criticized HHS for releasing migrant minors to sponsors too slowly.
“Everyone’s working around the clock, and there’s a big morale issue” at HHS, one of the three officials said, Reuters reported. “These are people who signed up to help kids.” (RELATED: What Happens After Migrants Are Released From CBP Custody?)
CBP had 2,800 unaccompanied migrant minors in custody and transferred around 650 others to HHS facilities where over 19,100 were held and 300 were released as of Wednesday, according to the agency. Over the last 30 days, CBP encountered an average of 496 migrant minors daily, and transferred an average 620 to HHS each day.
Federal agencies collaborate to transfer unaccompanied migrant minors out of CBP custody, though the discussions can become intense, HHS spokesperson Mark Weber said, Reuters reported.
“It’s tense,” Weber said, according to Reuters. “But it’s a healthy tension with high-powered folks aligned around the mission of making sure these kids are well-taken care of.”
Most of the unaccompanied migrant minors arrived from Central America in record numbers and CBP is projected to apprehend more unaccompanied minors this year than in any year since 2010, according to Reuters. CBP has encountered just over 34,000 unaccompanied migrant minors since January, including nearly 19,000 who arrived in March alone, according to the agency.
Neither CBP or HHS responded to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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