The federal government has found a suitable short-term solution to house migrant children in Texas as more and more migrants flood the U.S. immigration system.
A new emergency facility in Carrizo Springs, Texas, has been built and will be opening soon to specifically house underage migrant youth. The complex once housed oil field workers will reportedly hold as many as 1,600 teens on government-leased land near the border, Mark Weber, spokesman for the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) told The Associated Press.
The agency is also considering using Army and Air Force bases in Georgia, Montana, and Oklahoma to house an additional 1,400 children in the following weeks. There is an influx of children crossing the U.S. border without parents.
Most of the children crossing the border are escaping violence and corruption in Central America, and are held in custody while immigration agents determine if they are have relatives or family friends in the United States.
Children cannot be detained for longer than 20 days at border detainment facilities, but they also cannot be released without a guardian. Those without either usually end up in foster care or detainment facilities designed specifically for children and teens.
All the new facilities are merely temporary emergency shelters, said Weber.
Weber said it is the federal government’s legal requirement to take care of the migrant children so that they don’t remain in Border Patrol facilities. “They will have the services that ORR always provides, which is food, shelter, and water.”
Cutbacks of services for migrant children
Health and Human Services (HHS), recently announced they are cutting back on recreational activities, English language courses, and legal services for the more than 13,200 migrant toddlers, school age children, and teens currently in custody.
The cutbacks come after the Trump administration announced it is “scaling back or discontinuing” paying for the activities and legal services for migrant children, on June 5.
Perhaps it has something to do with the Border Patrol announcing more than 132,000 migrants were apprehended in May, more than 57,000 of them children, and more than 11,000 of those traveling without a parent.
Although advocates for the children argue keeping them at temporary shelters for longer periods than 20 days violates the Flores settlement that requires U.S. agencies to provide education and recreation to migrant children in their care, lawsuits do not address the reality that children continue to cross the border alone and cannot be released to the streets of either the United States or Mexico.
Includes reporting by The Associated Press