Shelters for Immigrant Children to Open in Texas, California

11 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

900 Undocumented Teens Arriving In North Texas.

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.

Rockwall County Judge David Sweet said that he is sensitive to the hardships and needs of these unaccompanied children, but the safety and security of citizens is the first priority. 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. The federal government has told Texas county officials that the move is necessary because there has been a surge on the border and facilities are packed there. “Although we remain open to the possibility of serving these children as needed, no formal request has been received at this point by Sabine Creek Ranch”. 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. Some parents with students in the Rockwall Independent School District reported getting an e-mail from the district advising them about the development. 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.

Officials are saying there will not be any financial impacts to the county or to the public schools in these counties and they will not be attending public schools. 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.

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. While the Ellis County site — located near Waxahachie — is extensive, the sheriff believes that it is not secure, and is notifying authorities about the arrivals.

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