TX Monthly: Policy reversal could lead to release of migrant children, closure of Tornillo facility

The Trump administration is changing the way the government reviews potential sponsors who want to care for migrant children, a move that could lead to the release of thousands of migrant children in federal custody, Texas Monthly reports.

According to the article written by El Paso journalist Robert Moore, the government will no longer require all adults in a potential sponsor household to submit their fingerprints for review by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. In the past, Texas Monthly reports, ICE has used the fingerprints to arrest at least 170 people. Critics warned the policy made it more difficult to place migrant children with sponsors.

The major policy reversal by the Trump Administration could lead to the closure of the tent facility for unaccompanied minors in Tornillo and the release of thousands of migrant children, Texas Monthly reports.

There are currently in between 2,700 and 2,800 children being housed at the facility. Texas Monthly reports only potential sponsors will be required to submit fingerprints. 


The Office of Refugee Resettlement emailed ABC-7 a statement, where it states it has determined it is in the best interest the migrant children to modify the requirement that all household members be fingerprinted.  

ORR said fingerprints will continue to be required of all sponsors and will continue to be cross-checked with the FBI's national criminal history, state repository records and DHS arrest records.  ORR will continue to perform public records checks on all adult household members to ensure child safety.

ORR said all potential sponsors must still undergo a criminal public records check and a sex offender registry check. In some instances, ORR also requires a home study before releasing a child. 

In June 2018, the Office of Refugee Resettlement put into place a new policy that required all potential sponsors and household members be fingerprinted. The policy was meant to enhance the safety checks on all people living in the prospective home of a migrant child.  Since the implementation of this policy, ORR determined checks of all household members have "generally not yielded additional information that has enabled ORR to identify new child welfare risks." The ORR also found "the time which all household members take to submit fingerprints affects the length of care for children."



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