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Immigrant shelter at Holloman to close


A temporary shelter for immigrant kids at Holloman Air Force Base is going dark this week.

The Central American children currently housed in an isolated wing of Holloman will be relocated by the end of the week and the temporary shelter will put in reserve, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

The number of unaccompanied children arriving at the Southwest border has fallen in the first two months of 2016, allowing HHS’ Office of Refugee Resettlement to accommodate the young immigrants at permanent facilities or with sponsors, HHS said in a statement to the Journal.

Last month, HHS set up the temporary shelter at Holloman — with 250 beds and room to grow to 700 beds — in response to a surge of young Central Americans crossing the border illegally and alone.

Border Patrol is required to transfer children from countries other than Mexico to HHS within 72 hours of their apprehension. By law, HHS must shelter and care for unaccompanied children until they can be released to a sponsor — usually a parent or family member in the U.S. — while they await immigration proceedings.

Some 20,455 unaccompanied children mostly hailing from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador illegally crossed the Southwest border between October and January — more than double the number who crossed during the same period a year ago. But after a surge in the fall, the flow began to taper this year, according to  HHS.

“No more unaccompanied children will be sent to Holloman unless needed and pending availability,” said HHS spokesman Christian Patterson in a statement. “All unaccompanied children are expected to be off of the base by Friday, Feb. 26.”

The temporary shelter began taking in kids about a month ago. It’s not clear how many children the shelter hosted over the past four weeks.