Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on directing Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) support at the border to help assist with the surge of unaccompanied minors.

March 31, 2021

“Our goal is to ensure that unaccompanied children are transferred to HHS as quickly as possible, consistent with legal requirements and in the best interest of the children.”

FEMA will assist for the next 90 days.

  • Per law, the Dept. of Homeland Security must transfer minors in custody to the Dept. of Health and Human Services within 72 hours.
  • The surge of minors or “unaccompanied alien children” (UAC) at the border, combined with COVID-related protocols, has created challenges for the U.S. government – including where to house children in custody awaiting next steps (whether they will be placed with family or a foster home in the U.S., etc.).
  • Currently, “individuals apprehended at the border continue to be denied entry and are returned.” However, the U.S. government will not do the same with a minor, as the minor will remain in U.S. custody for their own safety.
  • Political debates swirl over why the surge of UAC is happening:

Why This Matters: The increase of unaccompanied children has picked up in pace over the last two months, creating immediate challenges at the U.S. Southwest border for the Biden administration similar to those that confronted the Trump administration – where to safely keep and care for these minors apprehended at the border.

Here’s the press release from DHS: CLICK HERE

Here’s a SmartHER backgrounder on the UAC: CLICK HERE

by Jenna Lee,