The Unified Coordination Group headed up by Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Jeh Johnson, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Craig Fugate, and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Acting Assistant Secretary for the Administration for Children and Families Mark Greenberg recently provided an update on the federal response and efforts taken to address the influx of unaccompanied child immigrants entering the United States across the southwest border.
The influx of unaccompanied child immigrants is primarily due to increased violence in their countries of origin. Violence has increased dramatically in several Central American countries, with El Salvador and Guatemala garnering the dubious distinction of ranking fourth and fifth, respectively, in terms of the highest worldwide murder rates. Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of State describes the level of violence in Honduras and El Salvador as “critically high.”
In a statement made earlier this month, Secretary Johnson described the immigration issue as “a problem of humanitarian proportions.” He continued, saying “[DHS has] already taken a number of steps to address this issue with the goal to quickly and safely transport the unaccompanied children into the hands of HHS in a safe and humane manner, pursuant to the requirements of the law.”
FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate provided an update on FEMA’s efforts as well, saying that “FEMA is supporting our inter-agency partners to address the immediate needs of unaccompanied children.” This support includes additional facilities and medical teams to accommodate the needs of the unaccompanied child immigrants, as well as coordinated transportation. FEMA is also supporting future planning efforts to assist capacity development, with the goal that no child will reside in U.S. Customs and Border Protection facilities for more than 72 hours.
Assistant Secretary for the Administration for Children and Families Mark Greenberg went on to site the safety of both the child immigrants and the American public as the greatest concern of the Coordination Group, and stated that they are currently utilizing temporary facilities on military bases to provide a safe environment for the children.
For more information on this update and unaccompanied child immigration, please follow the link below.
Update on Unified Coordination Group’s Ongoing Response to Unaccompanied Children at the Border, Department of Homeland Security
President Calls for Interagency Group to Address Unaccompanied Child Immigration, Simons Center
5 Things You Need to Know About Unaccompanied Children, Center for American Progress