The Department of Health and Human Services will shut two facilities in Texas and two at convention centers in California by early August, Aurora Miranda-Maese, juvenile coordinator for the agency´s Office of Refugee Resettlement, said.
The measure came during a hearing in a federal court in Los Angeles that oversees a long-standing settlement governing custody conditions for immigrant children.
However, four of the large-scale shelters will remain open, including one that has faced criticism from immigrant advocates at Fort Bliss Army Base in El Paso, she said. Others are in Albion, Mich.; Pecos, Texas; and Pomona, she said.
Health and Human Services cares for the children until they can be sent to live with relatives in the United States. The agency has about 15,000 children in its care, and fewer than 3,000 in emergency facilities, Miranda-Maese said. But she noted that the number of children received from border authorities has increased in the last week.
In recent filings to the court, more than a dozen children described their desperation to get out of the emergency facilities. In one account, a teenage girl said she had been at Fort Bliss for nearly 60 days and could hardly sleep at night because the lights were always on and she resorted to eating only popsicles and juice because the food was foul.
pgh/Pll/oda / avr