More than 14K migrant children remain in HHS care, Becerra says while touring Pomona shelter

POMONA, Calif. (KABC) -- While visiting the emergency shelter at the Pomona Fairplex Friday, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said there are currently more than 14,000 children identified as unaccompanied minors who remain under the care of HHS throughout the U.S.

"Now that we have been able to stand up these emergency intake sites, in the process of actually beginning to wind some of them down, demobilizing many of them, because we've been able to increase the pace at which we are able to discharge some of these children into the hands of responsible vetted, custodians," Becerra said.

Becerra toured the Pomona shelter where he says there are currently just over 1,300 children.

When discussing the vetting that takes place before a child can leave one of the shelters, Becerra said it is a difficult process because "we do everything we can" to ensure the child is taken care of by the guardian.

In a recent report out of the largest facility at Fort Bliss, one federal volunteer said paramedics were regularly called to treat children suffering from panic attacks, often after other children left to be reunited with loved ones.

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At least 800 migrant children who were housed at the Long Beach Convention Center have been reunited with family members and only 100 now remain, officials say.

While HHS just did not comment on the report, the department stated it was expanding recreation space and mental health support.

On Friday, officials thanked volunteers and contractors who are providing services in Pomona.

"There are groups like Alma Family Services who came in right away," said Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chair Hilda Solis. "We asked them, 'Please come in, because you have the the specific technical expertise to talk in the language that is most conducive for these children.'"

Most of the children in Pomona are teens. More than half are from Guatemala, about 30% from Honduras and 15% from El Salvador.

Officials report more than 1,100 reunifications from the site.

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