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HHS to reopen barely used $300 million adolescent migrant 'overflow facility'

The facility was used for just one month in the summer of 2019.

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Golden Horseshoe
Golden Horseshoe
(Just the News)
Updated: February 13, 2021 - 10:28pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

The Golden Horseshoe is a weekly designation from Just the News intended to highlight egregious examples of wasteful taxpayer spending by the government. The ward is named for the horseshoe-shaped toilet seats for military airplanes that cost the Pentagon a whopping $640 each back in the 1980s. 

This week, our award is going to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for reopening a previously underutilized $300 million residential shelter for adolescent illegal immigrants.

This month, HHS confirmed that it will reopen a facility in Carrizo Springs, Texas that can accommodate as many as 1,300 illegal immigrant minors who crossed the southern border. The center, located just 45 miles from the Mexican border — once a detention camp, now rebranded an "overflow facility" by various mainstream outlets — was originally opened during the summer of 2019 to the tune of $300 million in taxpayer funds.

HHS currently funds about 170 state-licensed care facilities around the country to accommodate the influx of illegal immigrants across the various points of the U.S. border. Services offered at the sites include education for children and adolescents, mental and physical healthcare, legal counsel, and a select number of recreational activities. 

The center, which was funded by the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) — an arm of HHS that is meant to logistically accommodate illegal immigrants under the age of 18 — operated for just one month during the summer of 2019. During its single month of use, the center housed just 200 illegal immigrants at its peak, a figure that decreased to 100 before the Trump administration shut it down altogether — but not before spending hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to build classrooms, sports facilities, and a gazebo at the facility.

The Biden administration is reopening the costly facility to house some of the approximately 4,730 youths currently in the care of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, alhough, no child younger than 13 will be housed at the Carrizo Springs location. According to a statement from the agency, the government plans to start placing adolescents at the facility within 15 days of the announcement, which came in early February.

"HHS is mindful of these children's vulnerability, and our priority is the safety and wellbeing of each child in our care," said the Department. 

The facility's reopening comes amid Biden administration reversals of Trump-era immigration policies that will greatly soften the potential legal consequence of crossing the border illegally. The administration has already rolled out a number of executive orders pertaining to immigration and created a task force to work on the reunification of separated families. Consequently, the United States is expecting a significant increase in illegal migration across the southern border.

The Carrizo Springs facility, which already cost taxpayers several hundred million dollars, is being reopened at full operational cost, to help accommodate a surge of newly apprehended illegal immigrants. 

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