Tracking unaccompanied children in US custody

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Unaccompanied minors are loaded into a U.S. Border Patrol transport van after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border on March 25, 2021 in Hidalgo, Texas. A large group of families and unaccompanied minors, mostly teenagers, came over the Rio Grande onto private property, where Border Patrol agents separated the unaccompanied minors for separate transport. The Biden administration is permitting the minors to stay, whereas many families, especially with older children, are being deported. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

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.


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.