Early in the day, agents located the six-year-old with her one-year-old cousin mixed into a group of 25 other unrelated migrants moving away from the river bottom. The unaccompanied children were in possession of handwritten notes showing phone numbers of relatives in the U.S. One had a copy of a birth certificate. One was age five.
As the morning progressed, agents intercepted a group of five additional migrants and discovered two were unaccompanied. Two siblings aged nine and seven were identified by their birth certificates and carried contact information for relatives.
The five children in the groups were all Honduran nationals and will be processed for transfer to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Once family members or sponsors in the United States are located, the children will be released.
The HHS released more than 5,000 unaccompanied migrant children to U.S. sponsors in November 2021. As of Wednesday, 12,613 were in federal custody and awaiting similar transfers.
According to HHS, nearly 400 unaccompanied migrant children were arrested and placed into CBP custody daily during the most recent 30-day period. The Border Patrol apprehended more than 140,000 unaccompanied migrant children in Fiscal Year 2021.
HHS estimates the cost to detain a child is $775 per day. In other long-term facilities, they indicate that cost to be approximately $275 per day. Based on these estimates and the number of UACs currently in custody, the cost to the American taxpayer stands at more than $3.4 million daily.
Randy Clark is a 32-year veteran of the United States Border Patrol. Prior to his retirement, he served as the Division Chief for Law Enforcement Operations, directing operations for nine Border Patrol Stations within the Del Rio, Texas, Sector. Follow him on Twitter @RandyClarkBBTX.