Shelters for immigrant children to open in Texas, California

11 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

900 Undocumented Teens Arriving In North Texas.

Central American women hold photographs of their disappeared family members as they march in Mexico City, Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2015. Dallas — A new spike in unaccompanied Central American minors crossing illegally into the United States is pushing federal officials to open shelters in Texas and California.Up to 1,000 unaccompanied immigrant children from Central America will be temporarily housed in Ellis and Rockwall counties as early as Thursday, county officials said Wednesday.

Ellis County officials held a news conference this morning to discuss how they plan to house hundreds of Central American children amid concerns from residents about safety. A total of 10,588 unaccompanied children crossed the US-Mexico border in October and November, more than double the 5,129 who crossed during the same two months last year, according to the US Border Patrol. Another 200 to 500 will be housed at a church camp in Ellis County, said Ellis County Commissioner Paul Perry, though other reports indicated that number could reach 700.

Increasing gang violence is pushing people out of Central America, said Maureen Meyer, a senior associate for Mexico and migrant rights at the Washington Office on Latin America. “We need to look at this as much more a refugee situation,” she said. Rick DuBose, the superintendent for the North Texas district of the Assemblies of God, said 40-60 percent of the children will be sent back to their home regions. Ellis County Sheriff Johnny Brown sought to dispel any safety concerns linked to children by assuring residents in the area that the facility will be secured 24/7.

However, Rockwall County’s first priority is to the safety and security of the citizens of Rockwall County. (©2015 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. Sheriff’s deputies, personnel from the Texas Department of Public Safety and other law enforcement will provide security “to protect everybody.” DuBose said Lakeview’s agreement with the nonprofit BCFS (formerly Baptist Child and Family Services) was for 500 children and 200-plus support staff from the nonprofit, but the number of children could go up. Brown said there will be one adult worker per two children at the facility, correcting initial reports that there would be a ratio of one adult per eight children.

It remains to be seen whether this is a true resurgence, but Meyer says it is a telling sign that more families and children are coming during fall and winter months, when migration generally slows down. The federal government will cover the costs involved and is taking responsibility for the children’s care and safety, according to a news release from the city of Rockwall. The Lakeview camp’s executive director, Jaroy Carpenter, said in a letter on the camp website that it has a team of 200 adults ready to work with new arrivals.

Rockwall County Judge David Sweet, the county’s top administrator, said in an interview Thursday that he was finding out new information about the arrivals by the hour. He said the county had no role in the decision. “We recognize and are aware of the plight of these individuals, but first and foremost, obviously, the safety … of all Rockwall County residents is what we’re ensuring,” Sweet said. An additional 200 teens are expected to arrive next week, along with 200 more children who will be sheltered at Sabine Creek Ranch, just outside of Royse City in Rockwall County. Jenkins named three potential sites to house the children until they could be released to relatives in the U.S. or placed in foster care while their immigration status was reviewed.

If we close that back door, they won’t try to come.” Some Texas officials said they weren’t consulted beforehand, and that security is a concern.

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