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REPORT: Unaccompanied migrant children testing positive for COVID-19 in large numbers at Southern border

UNICEF - Refugee

Unaccompanied migrant children (UAC) along the southern border are testing positive for COVID-19 in large numbers after transferring from border stations.

This poses a critical health risk to migrant facilities currently operating past full capacity. As of a Tuesday report from the Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), there are 17,641 unaccompanied migrant minors in government care. 5,606 of these children are in CBP custody and 12,035 in the care of the Department of Human and Health Services (HHS), as reported to ABC News. Due to an influx of migrants arriving at the southern border, Customs and Border Patrol facilities are overloaded and unable to administer COVID-19 tests before transferring migrants.

Migrants arriving at the San Diego Convention Center, which is operating as a temporary shelter for migrant teens, are a particular cause for concern. As of Saturday, 32 out of 247 girls who arrived Monday night tested positive for COVID-19, HHS said to local ABC affiliate KGTV. Overall, 82 migrant teens at the convention center have tested positive for COVID, although none have needed to be hospitalized, HHS said. Texas HHS told ABC News, throughout March, a total of 647 COVID-19 cases were reported in 40 out of 50 Texas HHSC Office of Refugee Resettlement operations.

These cases are self-reported from migrant children currently in care. Around 10 percent of kids have tested positive for COVID-19 at the Carrizo Springs, Texas, facility for migrant children, a source familiar with the matter told ABC News. There were 766 unaccompanied migrant minors stationed at the site, which has 952 beds, as reported Wednesday. HHS reports that those who test positive for COVID-19 are traveling and living separately. Without the Title 42 travel ban, which was removed by the Biden administration, migrant children can not be turned away.

This, along with the overall increase in migrants as a result of the Biden administration’s elimination of border policies is a growing cause for concern as COVID-19 cases continue to enter the states. Migrant children are to be housed at facilities until social workers connect them with family or sponsors in the states. Despite an overloaded processing system and overcrowded care facilities, migrants at the southern border continue to be welcomed. The Biden administration has faced criticism for its lack of transparency and concern for the border crisis. 

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ARTICLE: ANTOINETTE AHO

POLITICS EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE 

PHOTO CREDITS: PBS

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