Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson announced Tuesday the formation of an inter-agency group to address the wave of thousands of unaccompanied children coming illegally into the United States over the past eight months that has resulted in what the administration describes as a “humanitarian crisis.”
The administration is establishing the Unified Coordination Group based on a provision of the Homeland Security Act of 2002 and that calls for the establishment of an oversight group in the case of such a crisis, Johnson said.
Johnson appointed Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate to head the group to ”ensure that federal agencies are unified in providing relief to the affected children,” he said in a statement.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection will continue to maintain primary responsibility for border security, working with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to care for unaccompanied children “when they are temporarily in DHS custody.”
“DHS will continue to coordinate closely with the Departments of Health and Human Services, State, Defense, the General Services Administration and other agencies, to ensure a coordinated and rapid government-wide response in the short-term and to undertake broader, longer-term reforms to address the root cause behind these recent migration trends,” Johnson said.
More than 47,000 children have entered the United States illegally over the past eight months, with the continuing influx overwhelming holding facilities in Texas and Arizona. More than 1,000 children will be moved to a facility in Fort Sill, Oklahoma. The other two locations housing unaccompanied children are Joint Base San Antonio in Texas and Naval Base Ventura County in California.
Members of the Senate on Tuesday proposed spending $1 billion to pay for health care services for illegal immigrant children.
Follow Sara A. Carter (@SaraCarterDC) on Twitter