UNITED STATES—In a March 15 email obtained by the Associated Press, government officials announced they would be housing up to 3,000 boys between the ages of 15-17 at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas, Texas, starting Wednesday, March 17.
According to the memo, authorities plan to use the facility for 90 days as a decompression center due to overcrowding in other HHS facilities meant to house children up to three days.
In a press release from the U.S. Homeland Security, Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, requested the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to assist with the Unaccompanied Alien Children (UACs). HHS will be finding more facilities like the KBCC to house unaccompanied immigrant children across the U.S.
“I am grateful for the exceptional talent and responsiveness of the FEMA team,” said Mayorkas. “I am incredibly proud of the agents of the Border Patrol, who have been working around the clock in difficult circumstances to take care of children temporarily in our care. Yet, as I have said many times, a Border Patrol facility is no place for a child. We are working in partnership with HHS to address the needs of unaccompanied children, which is made only more difficult given the protocols and restrictions required to protect the public health and the health of the children themselves. Our goal is to ensure that unaccompanied children are transferred to HHS as quickly as possible, consistent with legal requirements and in the best interest of the children.”
According to reports, another tent facility operated by Texas Border Patrol in Donna houses children as young as 4. It is gradually taking on more children.
By law, HHS has custody and must provide care for each UAC, defined as a child who has no lawful immigration status in the United States; has not attained 18 years of age; and, with respect to whom, there is no parent or legal guardian in the United States, or no parent or legal guardian in the United States available to provide care and physical custody. See 6 U.S.C. § 279(g)(2).
According to a March 15 press release, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents have been confronted with large groups of migrants crossing the border from Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and some nationals from Romania.
Agents discussed two groups back-to-back on Saturday, March 13, crossing the border from the areas listed above. Agents apprehended 134 illegal immigrants in the first group . The second group had 113 illegal immigrants with Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC).
According to the Health and Human Services website, the U.S. is responsible for these children who come into the country unaccompanied by a parent and have no parent residing in the U.S. These children are at risk of human trafficking.