Hundreds of Migrant Children Moved to a Texas Tent City, Hispanic Lawmakers Sound the Alarm
Hundreds of migrant children in recent weeks have been moved from private foster homes or shelters to a tent city in West Texas. The children were reportedly placed on buses in the middle of the night to move from shelters in locations ranging from New York to Kansas to the facility in Tornillo, Texas. The NYT reports that the children are now housed in groups of 20, sleeping in lines of bunk beds. There is no school: the children are given workbooks that they have no obligation to complete. And access to legal services is limited. The mass transfers are raising alarm among immigrant advocates, who were already concerned about the long periods of time migrant children are spending in federal custody. Thousands of migrant families were separated earlier this year as a result of Trump's "zero-tolerance" immigration policy. The number of migrant children in federal custody has increased from 2,400 in May 2017 to a record 12,800 this month. The growing number has caused alarm, and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) on Monday sent a letter to the Trump administration demanding answers about its child detention policies. CHC Chairwoman Congresswoman Michelle Luján Grisham (D-NM) and members of CHC leadership sent a letter to the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) Director Scott Lloyd demanding updates on the remaining children in ORR custody who are separated from their families and the administration’s timeline for ensuring that reunification efforts are completed in a timely manner. The CHC also asked for a meeting “to discuss what ORR is doing to ensure the safety of children in your custody.” The roughly 100 shelters that have, until now, been the main location for housing detained migrant children are licensed and monitored by state child welfare authorities, who impose requirements on safety and education as well as staff hiring and training. The facility in Tornillo is unregulated and opened in June with a 450-bed capacity and was scheduled to stay open for just 30 days. However, it is now expected to stay open until at least the end of the year and now holds 3,800 beds. More here.