The Biden administration is reportedly shelling out $60 million per week to care for the more than 16,000 illegal immigrant minors being housed in Department of Health and Human Services shelters.
The dollar figure comes from an analysis of government data obtained by The Washington Post.
As the number of illegal immigrant unaccompanied minors pouring over the border has surged in the past several weeks, HHS swiftly filled the 7,700 available beds in its shelters. The Post noted the cost of housing each minor is about $290 daily.
In addition, about 8,500 minors are living in emergency facilities in convention centers, converted oil worker camps, and military bases.
The cost of these emergency sites is more than 2½ times higher than the more-permanent shelters "due to the need to develop facilities quickly and hire significant staff over a short period of time," said Kenneth Wolfe, a spokesman for HHS’s Administration for Children and Families.
He told the Post that, far exceeding the paper's calculation, the average daily cost per minor is "approximately $775 per day based on past experience."
The temporary shelters are overseen by HHS, but usually contracted out to nonprofit and faith-based groups. These facilities normally offer educational and recreational programs for the minors, as well as traditional care.
Before they are released to a family member or a sponsor in the U.S., the unaccompanied minors spend an average of 31 days in HHS custody, according to the Post. As a result, the Biden administration is spending roughly $24,000 for each minor at the temporary facilities.
The Post noted the Biden administration is looking to streamline the vetting process for sponsors so minors can be released faster.
By September, the administration projects as many as 26,000 unaccompanied minors will cross the border each month and require care.
"HHS is committed to ensuring all unaccompanied children referred to our custody are cared for appropriately," Wolfe said. "To do so, we make every effort to ensure funds are used as effectively as possible to provide safe shelter and adequate services and that costs are contained to the degree possible."
But Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, said he was "deeply troubled" by reports that Biden officials are trying to expedite the vetting process of sponsors.
"Since 2015, my bipartisan oversight has shown, over two administrations, that federal agencies must do a better job of ensuring the safety and security of these vulnerable children," Portman said in a statement. "The U.S. federal government should not repeat the mistakes of prior administrations and hand these vulnerable children off to traffickers or other abusive situations, and there must be accountability to ensure the government can keep track of the children as they make their way through the legal system."
Meanwhile, sex abuse claims at an illegal immigrant facility in Texas have sparked demands by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott that the site be shut down. He has blamed President Joe Biden for the "deplorable conditions."
The Washington Examiner reported the facility in question was set up by the federal government at the Freeman Coliseum in San Antonio. It was hit by complaints alleging sexual assault, a lack of staff to properly supervise minors, and accusations those at the facility are not being fed properly.
The Examiner said there are also claims that some minors are testing positive for COVID-19 and not being kept separated from others.
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