Over the spring, the Biden administration established more than a dozen emergency intake sites overseen by HHS to alleviate overcrowding at border facilities and accommodate a record number of unaccompanied migrant children. As of late July, only five emergency intake sites remain open, according to HHS.
Among the largest of the sites is a facility at Fort Bliss, near El Paso, Texas, that has a potential capacity of up to 10,000 beds. Attorneys who previously visited the facility have likened it to “warehousing” hundreds of children. In a complaint filed last week, a whistleblower also said children told him “they felt like they were in prison.”
In its announcement, the HHS IG cited concerns raised about the quality of case management provided at Fort Bliss and said the review will involve analyzing interviews and on-site observations.
Case managers work with children to relocate them with sponsors, like parents or other relatives, in the US while they continue their immigration proceedings. The lack of sufficient case management can result in children staying at facilities for prolonged periods of time.
“We take seriously the concerns raised by individuals regarding the quality of case management at the Fort Bliss Emergency Intake Center and the potentially negative impact on children’s health, safety, and well-being,” said Tesia Williams, HHS OIG spokeswoman, in a statement. “If, during this review, we obtain information about conduct that appears to fall outside of the law or HHS policies and regulations, we will forward those details to our Office of Investigations for appropriate action.”