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HHS head cites progress during Fort Bliss migrant shelter visit amid protests

Protesters calling for the shut down of the Fort Bliss migrant kids shelter.
KVIA
Protesters calling for the shut down of the Fort Bliss migrant kids shelter.

EL PASO, Texas -- U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra visited El Paso on Monday to see a migrant detention facility at the Fort Bliss military post which has drawn criticism from advocates who have described unsafe conditions and allegations of abuse toward some of the children housed there.

Becerra, in a call with reporters following his visit, said progress was being made at the facility. He cited a decline from over 4,000 children being held at the facility at one point to 790 on Monday. He said all the kids at the facility were currently boys, there were no longer any girls staying there.

The HHS leader, whose agency is responsible for operating the Fort Bliss migrant shelter, said more mental health services and recreational activities have been added for the children housed there. And he added that caseworkers have been better trained to speed up the process of getting kids set up with sponsors or reunited with family members.

While Becerra was inside, nearly two dozen protesters gathered outside near the Cassidy Gate to Fort Bliss in an effort to send him a message.

The protesters called for Becerra to order the closure of the unaccompanied minor facility at the post. They also called for HHS to do more to reunite the children with their families.

Article Topic Follows: Border

Rachel Phillips

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