Last month, immigrant children who were being housed in shelters from Kansas to New York were woken in the middle of the night and taken across the country to a tent city in the middle of the desert in West Texas.
Before this major move, undocumented children were being placed in private foster homes or shelters. At the tent city in Tornillo, Texas, children sleep lined up in bunks and do not receive the formal education that they did at private foster homes or shelters. Additionally, children have limited access to legal services at the tent city.
With more than 13,000 detained migrant children in government custody, federal officials are moving children across the country to the tent city to address the housing shortage. Since may, shelter populations have been sitting at 90% capacity, and the Department of Health and Human Services says that the average time children spend in custody has almost doubled from 34 days to 59.
So far, 1,600 children have been shipped to the West Texas tent city. Hundreds more continue to be shipped each week.
Evelyn Stauffer, spokeswoman for the Health and Human Services Department, said, “It is common to use influx shelters as done on military bases in the past, and the intent is to use these temporary facilities only as long as needed.”
According to Stauffer, the tent cities reveal other major issues with the country’s immigration system. “The number of families and unaccompanied alien children apprehended are a symptom of the larger problem, namely a broken immigration system. Their ages and the hazardous journey they take make unaccompanied alien children vulnerable to human trafficking, exploitation and abuse. That is why H.H.S. joins the president in calling on Congress to reform this broken system,” said Stauffer.
Have you or a loved one been deported or separated from your children at the U.S. border? Do you need help being reunited with your family? If so, call (888) 491-8770 to schedule a free consultation with our Cleveland immigration lawyers. We are prepared to fight for you.