A controversial, government-contracted shelter for migrant children in the West Texas desert will shut down later this month, a result of sweeping changes to the rules that govern the custody of youngsters. Nationwide, the number of children in the government's care has stopped growing and begun to fall. In the last two weeks, some 2,200 child migrants — mostly teenage boys from Central America — have been discharged from shelters and allowed to join family already in the U.S.
At the biggest shelter of them all — the tent city in Tornillo, Texas — they're driving more than a hundred kids a day to the El Paso airport, to go be with their adult sponsors, said a senior official at the camp who asked not to be named because he wasn't authorized to speak to reporters.
The Department of Health and Human Services confirms the population at Tornillo is down from nearly 3,000 last month to about 1,500 today. HHS is responsible for the care of migrant kids who arrive at the border without a parent or legal guardian. An HHS fact sheet states that no additional children will be placed at Tornillo.
"We all feel a sense of relief," said the shelter official. He said he expects all of the children will be discharged by Jan. 15. BCFS, the San Antonio nonprofit that runs the sprawling camp, plans to vacate the bleak acreage by Jan. 31, when its contract runs out.
They've already begun to demobilize.