US had open beds as migrant kids languished at Texas station


This June 20, 2019, image from video, shows the entrance of a Border Patrol station in Clint, Texas. Attorneys for a 7-year-old girl in government custody have sent legal notice to the Justice Department demanding her release. An attorney says that for four days her parents have been told she’s “in transit,” moving from one government facility to the next. Last week, attorneys visiting children in a Clint, Texas, Border Patrol station encountered the inconsolable girl amid conditions they said were perilous. Kids were taking care of kids, and there wasn’t enough food, water or sanitation. (AP Photo/Cedar Attanasio)

HOUSTON (AP) — As more than 200 children languished in troubling conditions in a remote Border Patrol station, the government’s system of child detention facilities had at least 500 beds available.

Records obtained by The Associated Press show that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services had beds available in facilities across the U.S., which when tallied up numbered 512 last week.

Under federal law, the department is responsible for sheltering migrant children until they are placed with family sponsors.

The Border Patrol is supposed to hold children for no longer than 72 hours in most instances.

Health and Human Services says the total number of beds in its system doesn’t reflect the challenges of placing kids in specific facilities, especially toddlers and very young children.

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