President Joe Biden’s administration is carrying discussions to facilitate more beds for immigrant children and to lift capacity restrictions enacted during the coronavirus pandemic.
A memo issued by the US Department of Health and Human Services appeals service providers to temporarily increase capacity to full licensed capacity while implementing and adhering to strict COVID-19 mitigation measures. It’s not clear on how many beds will be available beyond the roughly 7,000 that were online last month. Meanwhile, HHS’ fully licensed capacity was over 13,000 beds last year.
Images and stories of packed Border Patrol cells in previous years have sparked outrage with accounts of families and young children fending for themselves without adequate food and water. Lifting pandemic restrictions could increase the risk of spreading the coronavirus within HHS facilities.
But considering the need, the organizations that run HHS facilities and some advocates have pushed for more beds to be made available. And this is rather good than the alternative of keeping kids in Border Patrol facilities longer or moving them to unlicensed emergency centers.