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Even after Tornillo tent city’s closure, more than 5,600 migrant kids are living in Texas shelters

In Texas, the number of unaccompanied migrant children held in government-funded shelters increased slightly in February, according to the latest state data.

This is after a large decline in January, when a temporary tent shelter in Tornillo, near El Paso, closed. The Trump administration announced in late December it would relax screening policies that immigrants rights groups have blasted for slowing placement of migrant kids with relatives and other sponsors.

As of Feb. 21, state data shows there were 5,659 children living at the 34 remaining shelters across the state for unaccompanied youth.

That’s more than the 5,601 children who lived in the shelters as of Jan. 16, but less than the 8,549 children living in the shelters, and at Tornillo, on Dec. 19.

Nationwide in January, there were at least 10,000 children being held in federal shelters, according to data from the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement. That means about 56 percent of all institutionalized minors were living in Texas.

In December, there were more than 2,700 children living at the Tornillo shelter — a hastily built tent city near El Paso that was originally designed to house 360 children when it opened in June. That facility, a federal installation overseen by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and run by a contractor, was not regulated by the state.

It was unclear exactly how many children were living at Tornillo until an Associated Press investigation in December detailed more complete data about all minors in the custody of the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement.

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