The Obama administration is opening new detention facilities to house immigrant families caught crossing the border together illegally. This is after months of an immigration surge from Central America.
The Homeland Security Department did not immediately say how many families would be kept in the new immigration jails or where they will be located.
Locally, Governor Perry has already sent Department of Public Safety troopers to help, and local charities in North Texas have gotten involved.
Catholic Charities in Fort Worth is preparing temporary shelter for children heading to Texas to escape violence. They’re not expecting to receive a huge number of children there at one time, but because of the crisis at the border, Catholic Charities is expecting its 32 beds to be used over and over again.
Catholic Charities CEO Heather Reynolds says many of the children crossing the border are fleeing, increasing violence in their homelands
The agency cared for an 8-year-old girl last year from Guatemala who was a victim of human trafficking who said she saw friends who were murdered.
“She would talk about the neighbor kids going missing,” said Heather Reynolds with Catholic Charities in Fort Worth. “When they were returned to them, they wouldn't have their hearts anymore.”
Last year, Reynolds' agency cared for 200 unaccompanied children. They’re expecting more, now that south Texas is the busiest border crossing in the country.
Many of the children who arrive are programmed by their family how to find their relatives.
“They have memorized the number,” said Reynolds. “’This is who you call when you get to the United States.’”
Xergio Chacin works on the charity's legal side. He says unfortunately, many of the children won't qualify for legal protection and may be sent home.
“With asylum, it’s not a general thing,” said Chacin. “You can't just say, ‘My country is messed up or my country is violent. You have to say I'm being persecuted. I'm being target.”
Catholic Charities keeps the kids for two to four weeks until they can be placed. After that, they don't keep track.
But they say they have gotten phone calls from family thanking them for what they've done.
“What these kids have been through is horrific,” said Reynolds. “That our country can help make sure they're cared for is wonderful.” The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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