You may recall that in March, in its early months, the Biden administration was hit by a large increase in unaccompanied migrant children, mostly from Central America, being apprehended at the border. Numbers of children began dropping in April and May, only to rise again in June and July. Now, they’re dropping again.
As a result, the number of kids stuck in Border Patrol’s child-inappropriate holding facilities, which had been rising alarmingly a couple of weeks ago, has dropped again.
By law Border Patrol must, as fast as possible, release unaccompanied children to the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement, which manages a network of shelters around the country. Currently, a few thousand children are in short-term emergency shelters where conditions are austere and grim. Health and Human Services must discharge children to relatives or other sponsors in the United States, with whom they stay while their asylum or protection cases are adjudicated.
Health and Human Services increased the pace of its discharges to U.S. sponsors in the weeks after the initial “wave” of children. Since then, though, the pace of discharges flattened out.
As a result, the full population of kids in U.S. government custody—17,174 on August 18—has barely budged: it hasn’t been below 15,000 in a long time. The last two weeks, at least, appear to have seen net decreases.
I made these charts using a collection of (as of today) 103 daily reports on unaccompanied children, issued by Customs and Border Protection and Health and Human Services. You can download those as a big (11MB) zipfile at bit.ly/uac_daily.