Immigration

The Federal Government Considers Houston For Additional Migrant Children Shelters

Since the start of this fiscal year, Health and Human Services has received some 32,000 unaccompanied minors. If numbers stay consistent, the agency is on track to shelter the largest number of migrant children in the program’s history.

The Casa Padre facility in Brownsville, Texas, is one of more than two dozen shelters for immigrant children operated by Southwest Key.

The federal government is looking at Houston, and other Texas cities, to house migrants under the age of 18 who arrive at the southern border without a parent or responsible adult.

In a written statement, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said the government is looking at vacant properties in Houston that could be turned into permanent shelters for unaccompanied minors. 

No specifics have been released about where they could be housed or what ages the children will be.

Children who arrive at the southern border without a parent remain in federal custody until they are connected with a relative or sponsor.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in fiscal year 2019 some 32,000 migrant children had been referred to the agency as of end-March, a nearly 50 percent increase from last fiscal year.

In a written statement, the agency said they’re on track to receive the largest number of migrant children in the program’s history.

Some 9,000 unaccompanied migrant children arrived in the month of March alone. 

According to immigrant advocates, having shelters in big cities is preferable to rural areas, where they may not have as much access to legal representation and medical services.

In a letter to Judge Hidalgo’s office, Health and Human Services also said the agency was assessing properties in San Antonio, Dallas/Fort Worth, Atlanta and Phoenix for “potential future use as state-licensed permanent shelter locations for unaccompanied alien children.”

They said new shelters will help “reduce the potential need for temporary influx shelters in the future.” 

As of June 2018, over 1,000 unaccompanied migrant children were being held in Houston-area shelters, according to the Texas Tribune

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