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3 migrant children in US custody test positive for virus

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In this Sept. 24, 2019 photo, girls eat lunch at a shelter for migrant teenage girls, in Lake Worth, Fla. The nonprofit U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants opened the federally funded Rinconcito del Sol shelter this summer, aiming to make it a model of excellence in a system of 170 detention centers, residential shelters and foster programs which held nearly 70,000 migrant kids in the past year. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Three immigrant children in U.S. government custody at a New York facility have tested positive for the coronavirus, officials said Thursday.

The Office of Refugee Resettlement, which is part of the Department of Health and Human Services, said it has suspended releases from centers in New York that house immigrant children who were apprehended by U.S. border authorities without their parents or a guardian.

Five staff members and a contractor at three separate facilities in New York also recently tested positive for the virus, as well as a staff member at a Texas facility and a foster parent in Washington state, the office said in a statement.

The announcement came a day after immigrant advocates asked a federal judge in Los Angeles to order the agency to release about 1,200 immigrant children who have been in government custody more than 30 days due to concerns about the virus. The judge has scheduled a videoconference on the request for Friday.

The office is tasked with the custody and care of immigrant children caught traveling alone across the U.S.-Mexico border. It contracts with shelters across the United States to house these children until they can be released to fitting sponsors, most often their relatives.

There are about 3,500 children in the office’s custody.

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