Representatives Panetta and Carbajal Statement on HHS Consideration for Camp Roberts to Temporarily House Unaccompanied Minors

April 15, 2021
Press Release

Today, Congressman Jimmy Panetta (D-Carmel Valley) and Congressman Salud Carbajal (D-CA-24) released a statement on the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) ongoing consideration to use Camp Roberts as a temporary facility to house unaccompanied children under 18 years old who have crossed the southern border in an attempt to avail themselves of the laws of the United States.  If HHS finds Camp Roberts suitable to meet the needs of children, the California Army National Guard Post would be used to temporarily house these minors as they are processed to be placed with family or a sponsor, prior to a court determination of their legality in the United States.  HHS has yet to make a final decision as to whether Camp Roberts will serve this purpose.

“As we continue to deal with the deluge of people, including unaccompanied children of all ages, coming to our southern border to try to avail themselves of our nation’s laws, we must take the appropriate steps to ensure order and compassion as we apply our laws to determine their claims of asylum and attempts to legally reunify with their parents or family members.  That means that we must have proper and safe temporary facilities to house those unaccompanied minors while our government legally determines their claims,” said Congressman Panetta.  “Recently, I visited one of the many HHS facilities for unaccompanied minors who crossed the southern border and were awaiting placement and legal processing.  I found the facility, located in Carrizo Springs, Texas, to be clean, spacious, and safe.  If HHS decides that Camp Roberts will be used as a location for one of its many facilities to temporarily house unaccompanied minors, Representative Carbajal and I will ensure that the facility meets those same standards.  We have and will continue to be in contact with the Biden Administration and HHS for any further developments on their decision on Camp Roberts, and we will provide the necessary oversight for such temporary housing.  Moreover, we will continue our fight for an orderly, efficient, and safe process during the legal determination for those unaccompanied children who came here seeking their family and, ultimately, a better life.”

“Unaccompanied minors who seek refuge in the United States should, at the very least, be treated humanely while they’re being processed.  When I recently visited the Carrizo Springs HHS facility in Texas, I saw a safe and orderly facility where children were afforded medical care, educational and legal services, and basic human rights,” said Rep. Carbajal.  “I commend the Biden administration for working quickly to evaluate sites across the country, so we can alleviate overcrowding and ensure children receive adequate care.  Camp Roberts is a safe and well-run site and, if selected, I will keep working with the Biden administration to provide appropriate resources to the facility and will closely monitor conditions to ensure children are cared for.”

At the time of this press release, HHS has not made a final decision as to whether the post will house unaccompanied minors.  The department is expected to hand down its decision soon.  Representatives Panetta and Carbajal remain in close contact with HHS leadership to provide oversight during the evaluation process.

Located on both sides of the Salinas River in Monterey and San Luis Obispo counties, Camp Roberts is one of several government facilities undergoing consideration to temporarily house unaccompanied minors.  Unaccompanied children who reach the Southern Border are brought into temporary Customs and Border Patrol custody for processing before being sent to a Department of Health and Human Services facility, which are equipped to meet the needs of children in their care.  Children in temporary HHS accommodations are soon released to family or a sponsor until their legal status is determined by the court system.

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