Tracking unaccompanied children in US custody

WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — The Biden administration is releasing data on the number of unaccompanied children in custody of U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Department of Health and Human Services amid a surge in recent weeks.

NewsNation is tracking the data in an interactive chart below.

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How the system works

  1. An unaccompanied child who is taken into custody by Customs and Border Protection is brought to a facility and processed for transfer to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as required by law. 
  2. HHS holds the child for testing and quarantine, and shelters the child until the child is placed with a sponsor here in the United States.
  3. According to the federal government, in more than 80% of cases, the child has a family member in the United States. In more than 40% of cases, that family member is a parent or legal guardian.  These children are reunited with their families who will care for them.
  4. The children then go through immigration proceedings where they are able to present an application for asylum or other protection under the law.


April 21, 2021

The chart has been updated to put the most recent numbers at the top for easier reading.

March 30, 2021

A spokesperson for HHS confirmed they won’t be sending out data on Saturdays and Sundays. This means we will not have the daily counts for Fridays and Saturdays.

MARCH 29, 2021

HHS released data for Sunday, March 28, but haven’t provided numbers for Friday, March 26 or Saturday, March 27. We have reached out to HHS to get complete data to update the chart above.

March 25, 2021

The second day of numbers were released on Thursday. According to the report, on Wednesday, 681 unaccompanied children apprehended and placed into CBP custody. More than 17,000 children were either in CBP or HHS custody.

President Joe Biden addressed the issue in his first press conference since taking office.

He said the vast majority of migrants are turned back and that some families had been allowed into the country because Mexico would not accept them.


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