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HHS repurposes an emergency intake site in Michigan for unaccompanied Afghan minors

CNN logo CNN 10/14/2021 By Priscilla Alvarez, CNN
a group of people standing on the side of a road: People who were evacuated from Kabul, Afghanistan, wait to board a bus at the Dulles International Airport in Virginia that will take them to a refugee processing center on August 25. © Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images People who were evacuated from Kabul, Afghanistan, wait to board a bus at the Dulles International Airport in Virginia that will take them to a refugee processing center on August 25.

The Department of Health and Human Services is repurposing one of its temporary shelters in Michigan for unaccompanied migrant children to accommodate Afghan minors who arrived to the US alone.

The department is charged with the care of children who arrived to the US unaccompanied until they can be placed in the care of a sponsor, such as a parent or relative. There are 201 unaccompanied Afghan minors in HHS care, according to the department.

HHS established more than a dozen so-called emergency intake sites earlier this year to care for the record number of migrant children who crossed the US-Mexico border, many of which have closed since the number of unaccompanied minors has dropped. But one of those sites, the Starr Commonwealth campus in Albion, Michigan, remains open and will now provide care specifically for Afghan minors, an HHS spokesperson said.

There are 63 unaccompanied Afghan minors currently at the site. The children will be at the site until they're reunited with a sponsor, such as a family member, in the United States.

Last month, the Biden administration adjusted guidance for Afghan children who arrived in the US without a parent to allow them to stay with the adult they traveled with, according to guidance obtained by CNN. The guidance, issued by HHS, outlined steps to avoid Afghan children being separated from adults who are their caregivers upon arrival to the US.

The Office of Refugee Resettlement, an agency within HHS, operates a network of more than 200 facilities and programs nationwide. As of October 12, there were 11,464 children in HHS care, many of whom were apprehended on the US-Mexico border.

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