The Biden administration is spending at least $60 million per week to house the more than 16,000 migrant minors in its care, according to a report.
That funding, which amounts to $3.1 billion per year, is used to care for children in facilities run by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) after they’ve been transferred from Border Patrol. Those costs are expected to rise dramatically over the coming months, according to a Washington Post analysis.
That’s about four times the $760 million FY2020 budget for the Small Business Administration, and four times a similar amount allotted to the SBA that year to assist small businesses getting crushed by the COVID-19 epidemic.
The administration has quickly set up 10 emergency shelters with 16,000 temporary beds for migrant children in convention centers and repurposed oil worker camps and military bases. HHS had rapidly filled up the 7,700 beds in its network of permanent shelters, where the cost of care comes out to $290 per child, according to the Post analysis.
Currently, 8,500 children are living in pop-up sites, and 4,000 more are waiting to be transferred from border facilities.
But the cost of housing children at emergency sites is significantly higher than more permanent shelters, according to Kenneth Wolfe, a spokesman for HHS’s Administration for Children and Families. He said the daily cost of caring for a child there is “approximately $775 per day based on past experience.”
Teens and children spend an average of 31 days in HHS custody before they are released to a vetted family member or a sponsor, according to HHS data. That’s about $24,000 for each minor held at facilities, without including time spent in Border Patrol care.
Pressure on the Biden administration has increased as pictures and videos emerged from the Donna facility of the then-more-than 4,000 migrants in custody packed in “pods.” Each pod contained 500-600 migrants. Guidelines say there should only be 32 migrants in each pod.
While single adults, and some migrant family units can be expelled via Title 42 health protections implemented during the Trump administration, the Biden administration has not sought to extend that policy to unaccompanied children.
Last week, Fox News confirmed that CBP is projecting that as many as 184,000 unaccompanied children could reach the border in the fiscal year 2021.