Biden moves to guarantee abortions for unauthorized migrant children


Migrants At U.S.-Mexico Border In Arizona
Migrants seeking asylum board a U.S. Customs and Border Protection vehicle to be transferred to temporary shelter in Yuma, Arizona, U.S., on Monday, Feb. 21, 2022. Arizona’s Republican attorney general, locked in a tough U.S. Senate primary where border security is a top GOP issue, on Monday said the governor can use National Guard troops and state law enforcement to forcibly send migrants back across the border to Mexico without regard to federal immigration laws, reports the Associated Press. Photographer: Nicolo Filippo Rosso/Bloomberg via Getty Images Bloomberg/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Biden moves to guarantee abortions for unauthorized migrant children

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The Biden administration is directing shelter officials to ensure that unaccompanied immigrant children in federal custody have access to abortions, which includes moving children to states where abortion is still legal.

The Office of Refugee Resettlement, an agency in the Department of Health and Human Services in charge of housing immigrant children that arrive in the country without a parent or guardian, said officials “must not prevent [unaccompanied children] from accessing legal abortion-related services” and must facilitate access to the services when requested by the minor, according to guidance released Thursday.


The guidance specifies that officials should prioritize housing pregnant unaccompanied children or children who are victims of sexual-based crimes in states with “broad access to reproductive health care.”

As of the end of August, over 3,000 unaccompanied female children were in the agency’s care, per federal data. The data do not specify how many were pregnant. By law, the HHS has custody of children under 18 who have no immigration status in the country and do not have a parent or legal guardian in the U.S., many of whom entered the country illegally and were apprehended by border officials.

The guidance expands a directive that the Biden administration issued last year telling officials to avoid placing pregnant unaccompanied children in Texas shelters, which had enacted a law that bans abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, and to transfer those who were already housed there to other states.

The Biden administration has made several moves to give unaccompanied minors access to abortions, a reversal from the Trump administration. In 2017, the Trump administration prohibited shelter officials from facilitating access to abortions without approval from the director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, which an appeals court later ruled was unconstitutional.


Over 122,000 unaccompanied minors were held in federal shelters during fiscal 2021, an all-time high surpassing previous records under the Trump and Obama administrations.

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