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Facility to Hold Immigrant Children Is Closing Less Than One Month After Opening

Wayfair Employees Stage Walkout Over Company's Sale Of Furniture To Migrant CampsWayfair Employees Stage Walkout Over Company's Sale Of Furniture To Migrant Camps
A participant carries a sign as Wayfair employees and others stage at a rally at Copley Square in Boston on June 26, 2019. On June 19, employees at Wayfair learned BCFS - a government contractor that has been managing facilities for migrant children detained at the southern US border - ordered $200,000 worth of bedroom furniture to be shipped to the site of a future 1,600-bed shelter in Carrizo Springs, Texas. Jonathan Wiggs—The Boston Globe via Getty Images

The U.S. government's new holding facility for migrant youth will close as early as this week, less than one month after it was opened in response to the squalid conditions in which children were being detained by the Border Patrol, according to the nonprofit operating the facility.

The last children at the camp at Carrizo Springs, Texas, are on track to leave by Thursday, said Kevin Dinnin, the CEO of the nonprofit BCFS.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services opened the facility in late June. An HHS spokeswoman declined to comment Tuesday.

Dinnin, whose nonprofit was contracted by HHS to operate Carrizo Springs, said his staff was to leave by the end of the week. It's still unclear whether some of the trailers and supplies brought to the camp will remain on site so that it can be quickly re-opened if it's needed in the future.

Roughly 400 children were detained at Carrizo Springs in total, Dinnin said. BCFS had a contract that could have run through January and paid $300 million, according to U.S. government public notices. But Dinnin said it made little sense for staff and resources to be tied to a site where they weren't needed. Holding children at emergency facilities like Carrizo Springs comes at a huge cost — an estimated $750 to $800 a day.

Making Carrizo Springs ready for children required clearing mold and repairing air conditioning systems at the camp, which formerly housed oilfield workers . BCFS also brought in an infirmary built in a tent and its own ambulances.

Vice News first reported the development.

Reports earlier this year of the squalid conditions in which children were held in some Border Patrol cells — with no beds, inadequate food, and teens caring for younger children among themselves — sparked wide outrage. But by the time HHS opened Carrizo Springs, the huge numbers of children crossing the U.S.-Mexico border had fallen as they normally do during the summer due to heat.

HHS is also processing children more quickly after rolling back guidelines on fingerprinting and background checks.

Border crossings tend to rise in the fall. Dinnin said he hadn't been told yet what HHS wanted to do with the site, which the agency leased for three years.

"I do think it's prudent that they have a plan they can pull off the shelf and effectively and timely execute," Dinnin said. "That's just logical for what we've seen the last six or seven years."

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