Shelters for migrant children to open in Texas, California

11 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

First funeral of San Bernardino massacre victim to be held Thursday.

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. 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.

She was one of the victims of a shooting at a social service facility in San Bernardino, Calif., Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2015. (Courtesy of George Velasco via AP) On the morning of Dec. 2, Yvette Velasco got dressed up and flat-ironed her hair. It was an important day: The 27-year-old was going to receive a gold badge officially recognizing her as a San Bernardino County health inspector at a holiday work event. 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. One week and a day after the massacre, Velasco will be remembered Thursday in an outdoor funeral, at a spot on a hill chosen by her three older sisters and parents in remembrance of her love of nature. The ceremony will mark the start of a grim procession expected to take place throughout Southern California over the next week: about a dozen memorials, funerals and burials for those killed in the attack.

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. As many as 1,000 of the children will stay at two rural camps outside Dallas: the Sabine Creek Ranch in Rockwall County and the Lakeview Camp and Retreat Center in Ellis County. “While here, these students will experience recreation, education, church services, and other typical camp programming,” Carpenter said in a letter on the camp’s website. “It is an absolute privilege that we have the facility, infrastructure, and support to coordinate such an opportunity in service to displaced children.” US Rep. Joe Barton, a Texas Republican who represents Ellis County, said he expects the children to stay no more than 21 days, and that local authorities will hire off-duty police officers or sheriff’s deputies to help with security. Barton said he’s against keeping the children in North Texas, and would support requiring unaccompanied minors to be returned immediately to their home countries. “As soon as we do change it, you won’t have these thousands and thousands coming,” Barton said. “They’re coming because they’ve found a back-door way into the country. Judge David Sweet, Rockwell county’s top administrator, said Thursday he’s been told that 300 children, all from Central America, are arriving in his county. “It goes without saying that we’re very sensitive (to) the plight of unaccompanied children,” Sweet said.

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. She started off in vector control, collecting mosquitoes hovering near backyard pools and dirty puddles for disease testing, and eventually became an environmental health specialist, a job that sent her around the county inspecting restaurants. When the family learned it was Velasco’s department meeting at the Inland Regional Center and that she’d sent a Snapchat from a holiday party that morning, they began to panic. The week that followed has brought days of shock and a list of somber preparations they didn’t imagine making for a little sister: arranging the funeral and picking photos of a smiling Velasco at birthdays and weddings for a reception slideshow.

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