Weslaco, Texas — Potentially thousands of migrant children held in government-sponsored detention centers may soon be released after a policy reversal from the Trump administration.
The Department of Health and Human Services said it will no longer require FBI fingerprinting of all adults living with prospective sponsors-- information that was then shared with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The announcement essentially cancels the policy put in place six months ago.
The reversal could lead to speedier releases of the nearly 1,500 migrant children held at detention centers and shelters across the country, including the ‘tent city’ in Tornillo, Texas where there’s roughly 2,800 teens.
HHS’s Office of Refugee Resettlement determined the fingerprinting policy affected the timely release of children because of the fear ICE would use the information to target other undocumented immigrants in the household.
The move comes as the contract between HHS and the San Antonio-bases non-profit BCFS, which runs the Tornillo facility, is set to expire on Dec. 31 with no word yet on a renewal.
Congressman Will Hurd, whose district includes Tornillo, expressed concern about the effects of child detention and called for a long-term solution in Central America.
“We should be talking about increasing funding to USAID and State Department in order to deal with violence and economic issues in those countries, which are the drivers of that net migration here to the United States,” said Hurd.
FBI fingerprinting for actual sponsors will continue as part of the vetting process for qualification.