A new spike in unaccompanied Central American minors crossing into the United States is pushing federal officials to open shelters in Texas and California. About 800 immigrant children from Central America who have entered the United States illegally will be moved to two campsites in the Dallas area over the coming days, local officials said on Thursday. Incoming family groups are usually sent first to detention centers, and adult migrants are often jailed when they are apprehended, but children traveling alone need special treatment under federal law.
We didn’t feel like there was any way we could turn them away and not care for them. We have the beds that are empty and the food that can be served.
Reverend Rick DuBose, superintendent of the Assemblies of God of North Texas
Increasing gang violence is pushing people out of Central America, said Maureen Meyer, a senior associate for Mexico and migrant rights at the Washington Office on Latin America. More migrants are crossing the border, even as new checkpoints between Central America and the U.S. are turning thousands of people back, said Emilio Gonzalez Gonzalez, a political scientist and independent researcher in Mexico City. Rather than fleeing, many of the children seek out U.S. officials, surrender and request political asylum, citing violence and endemic crime in their home countries.
A total of 10,588 unaccompanied children crossed the U.S.-Mexico border in October and November, more than double the 5,129 who crossed during the same two months last year, according to the U.S. Border Patrol.