TEXAS (NewsNation Now) — After facing scrutiny over a lack of transparency on the number of children in custody at the southern border, the Biden administration announced there are 16,513 kids in their custody.
The administration said it will release daily updates on the number of unaccompanied kids in both Customs and Border Patrol and Health and Human Services custody.
As of March 23, there are 4,962 children in CBP custody. These numbers represent unaccompanied minors who have arrived at the border and are at Department of Homeland Security stations.
Images released of a CBP facility in Donna, Texas have received backlash for showing crowded tents filled with migrant children. Children are not supposed to be in CBP custody longer than 72 hours.
The images, which some compared to the conditions children were held in under the Trump administration, were first released by Rep. Henry Cuellar who called for more transparency about the condition of the CBP facilities.
“We ought to take care of those kids like they’re our own kids,” Cuellar said.
The Biden administration has stressed their goal is to move children out of CBP custody and into HHS care as soon as possible, but CBP has caught far more kids than HHS has released.
On March 23, CBP has apprehended 621 children. That number does not include children from Mexico who were repatriated back after being apprehended.
There are currently 11,551 children in HHS custody according to the latest data from the Biden administration. The HHS facilities are designed to house children longer-term until they can be ultimately placed with a family member or sponsor.
The Biden administration allowed media to tour one of those facilities in Carrizo Springs. That border facility currently houses around 750 migrant teen boys.
More than 40% of the children in HHS custody have a parent or legal guardian who could take them in and 80% have a family member in the U.S.
As of March 23, 209 children have been discharged from HHS custody.
The Biden administration has in recent weeks moved to open more than 10,000 new beds across the Southwest in convention centers and former oilfield camps. It notified Congress on Wednesday that it will open a new 3,000-person facility in San Antonio and a 1,400-person site at the San Diego convention center.
HHS is also opening a second site in Carrizo Springs and received approval from the Defense Department Wednesday to begin housing teenagers at military bases in San Antonio and El Paso, Texas.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.