The Health and Human Services inspector general is launching a wide-ranging review of all facilities that are housing undocumented immigrant children, officials said Wednesday.
The review, which is expected to be completed before the end of the year, will look at steps being taken by the agency and contractors "to ensure the health and safety" of children found unaccompanied at the border, as well as those separated from their families, officials told BuzzFeed News.
The review comes as local and federal lawmakers press US Customs and Border Protection, the Department of Homeland Security, and Health and Human Services, known as HHS, for details on where the children are being held and how officials plan to reunite them with relatives.
An HHS spokesperson told BuzzFeed News the inspections will focus on training, qualifications, and background checks conducted of facility employees, as well as their response to "incidents of harm."
The inspection will not previous at allegations of abuse at the facilities, which are expected to be conducted separately.
Some of the children under the care of HHS are placed in facilities run by private companies under contract with the federal government, and the inspection is expected to look at how these contractors have responded to a sudden spike of unaccompanied children in custody, according to the agency.
As of Tuesday, HHS officials said 2,053 children who had been separated from their relatives at the border were currently in their care. The children were separated from their families after the Trump administration's implementation of a "zero tolerance" policy that sought criminal prosecution for all adults caught trying to enter the border anywhere but at a port of entry.
But there were signs that the Trump administration was looking to continue the practice of detaining the immigrant families, and to expand the government's ability to house them.
On Wednesday, the Department of Defense said it had received a request from the Department of Homeland Security to search for facilities to expand housing capacity by 12,000 people.
"DHS requests that DoD identify any available facilities that could be used for that purpose," the Department of Defense said in a statement. "If facilities are not available, DoD has been asked to identify available DoD land and construct semi-separate, soft-sided camp facilities capable of sheltering up to 4,000 people, at three separate locations."
The DHS added that it preferred locations on the border, including Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and California.
It was unclear when the Department of Defense would be able to complete the request, but the DHS asked that the Pentagon increase their capacity by at least 2,000 people within 45 days.
The announcements came after a federal judge on Tuesday night ordered the Trump administration to end separations for most families at the border and to begin the process to reunite children with their parents.
But federal and local officials have been complaining about a lack of information from federal agencies. And Wednesday, Democratic lawmakers also called for the release of "basic" information about the children in detention.