April 27, 2021
To ensure shelter and care for the large numbers of unaccompanied children who have recently arrived at the U.S. southern border, the Biden administration has rapidly established a host of temporary “emergency intake sites” (EISs).[i] These non-licensed sites currently provide fewer services to children than both temporary “influx” facilities and permanent, licensed shelters—in part a reflection of operational exigencies. Those challenges notwithstanding, it is vital that ORR set robust standards for EISs and monitor compliance with them to ensure children’s safety, well-being, and access to protection. The Biden administration should also minimize reliance on EISs by taking immediate measures to further expedite the safe release of unaccompanied children to sponsors and expand permanent placement capacity. In the longer term, the administration should carry out fundamental reforms—including a full transformation of the border reception and shelter systems—that would eliminate any future need for non-licensed facilities.