clearn.png
Tuesday June 15th, 2021 6:34AM

Immigrant teens to be housed at Dallas convention center

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

DALLAS (AP) — The U.S. government plans to house up to 3,000 immigrant teenagers at a convention center in downtown Dallas as it struggles to find space for a surge of migrant children at the border who have strained the immigration system just two months into the Biden administration.

American authorities encountered people crossing the border without legal status more than 100,000 times in February — a level higher than all but four months of Donald Trump’s presidency. The spike in traffic poses a challenge to President Joe Biden at a fraught moment with Congress, which is about to take up immigration legislation, and has required the help of the American Red Cross.

The Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center will be used for up to 90 days beginning as early as this week, according to a memo obtained by The Associated Press that was sent Monday to members of the Dallas City Council. Federal agencies will use the facility to house boys ages 15 to 17, according to the memo, which describes the soon-to-open site as a “decompression center.”

The Health and Human Services Department is rushing to open facilities across the country to house immigrant children who are otherwise being held by the Border Patrol, which is generally supposed to detain children for no more than three days. The Border Patrol is holding children longer because there is next to no space in the HHS system, similar to the last major increase in migration two years ago.

A tent facility operated by the Border Patrol in Donna, some 500 miles (804 kilometers) south of Dallas, is holding more than 1,000 children and teenagers, some as young as 4. Lawyers who inspect immigrant detention facilities under a court settlement say they interviewed children who reported being held in packed conditions in the tent, with some sleeping on the floor and others not able to shower for five days.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Saturday directed the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help manage and care for children crossing the border.

“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," Mayorkas said in a statement. “Yet, as I have said many times, a Border Patrol facility is no place for a child.”

Asked about housing migrant teens at the convention center, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday that the administration has been looking for additional facilities for unaccompanied children but that she would have to look into the specifics of the arrangement in Dallas.

“Certainly we would ensure that we’re meeting the standard that we have set out,” Psaki said.

The growing number of child arrivals comes at politically charged moment, with Congress taking up immigration legislation this week. Biden has delighted pro-immigration advocates by backing a bill to offer a path to citizenship to all of the estimated 11 million people in the U.S. illegally. He also suspended several Trump-era policies to deter asylum, including one that forced them to wait in Mexico for court hearings in the U.S.

Republicans have seized on the numbers to portray a border spinning out of control.

“This crisis is created by the presidential policies of this new administration,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said Monday while leading a large congressional delegation to El Paso, Texas. “There’s no other way to claim it than a Biden border crisis.”

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued a similar statement, blaming Biden's policies for “a humanitarian crisis for unaccompanied minors coming across the border.”

Democrats criticized large camps set up in Tornillo, Texas, and Homestead, Florida, to house children during previous emergencies, including in 2018 when the Trump administration separated thousands of immigrant families.

Biden has kept pandemic-related powers in place that allow him to immediately expel people who enter the country without legal status, denying them an opportunity to seek asylum. Biden aides have yet to say when the administration may lift that authority. It does not extend to children who cross the border alone.

U.S. authorities encountered children traveling alone 9,457 times in February, nearly double the number in January and the highest since May 2019, when the figure neared 12,000 during the peak of a Trump-era surge.

The memo sent to Dallas City Council members says the Federal Emergency Management Agency and HHS will “be responsible for providing shelter management and contracts” for food, security, cleaning, and medical care at the convention center. Dallas previously offered space to HHS during the 2014 surge of crossings of immigrant children.

Dallas City Manager T.C. Broadnax said in a statement that “collective action is necessary, and we will do our best to support this humanitarian effort.” He referred questions to HHS, which did not respond to requests for comment Monday.

HHS also has said it will house immigrant youths in Midland. Teenagers began arriving Sunday at a converted camp for oilfield workers where volunteers from the American Red Cross will care for them. BuzzFeed News first reported the opening of the Midland facility.

The Red Cross has sent about 60 volunteers to the facilities in Midland and Dallas and expects to deploy more in the coming days, said Greta Gustafson, a spokeswoman for the group.

The surge at the U.S.-Mexico border has presented a major test for Biden's administration, which promised to break from the more restrictive measures against migrants enacted by Trump. Biden has left in place some Trump policies, notably the expulsions of immigrant adults and families under a public-health declaration citing the coronavirus pandemic.

Biden declined to reinstate public-health expulsions of children, and his administration has also been unable to expel many families in South Texas due to policy changes in Mexico's Tamaulipas state, across from the Texas Rio Grande Valley.

Border agents are apprehending more than 400 children a day on average, far more than the number of children that HHS is processing and releasing to sponsors. The Biden administration has announced several policy changes to try to expedite releases, but experts and immigration lawyers say the government could do more to speed up the process, particularly of releasing children to their parents in the U.S.

___

Merchant reported from Houston.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News
© Copyright 2021 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Major European nations suspend use of AstraZeneca vaccine
Germany, France, Italy and Spain have become the latest countries to suspend use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine over reports of dangerous blood clots in some recipients, though the company and European regulators have said there is no evidence the shot is to blame
4:03PM ( 11 minutes ago )
Immigrant teens to be housed at Dallas convention center
The U.S. government wants to house up to 3,000 immigrant teenagers at a convention center in downtown Dallas as it struggles to find space for a surge of migrant families who have inundated the border and strained the immigration system just two months into the Biden administration
4:00PM ( 13 minutes ago )
3 die when car hits 9 people in San Diego; driver in custody
San Diego authorities say a driver lost control and drove onto a sidewalk in downtown San Diego on Monday morning, killing three people and injuring six others
3:54PM ( 20 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
2 charged in assault of Capitol officer who died after riot
U.S. officials have arrested and charged two men with assaulting U.S. Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick with bear spray during the Jan. 6 riot, but they do not know yet whether it caused the officer’s death
3:31PM ( 43 minutes ago )
US to house up to 3,000 immigrant teens at Dallas site
The U.S. government will use the downtown Dallas convention center to hold up to 3,000 immigrant teenagers as sharply higher numbers of border crossings have severely strained the current capacity to hold youths
3:17PM ( 56 minutes ago )
Nebraska declares pro-meat day on Colorado meatless day
Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts is railing against a proclamation by the governor of Colorado that encourages people to avoid meat for one day a week, calling it a “direct attack on our way of life” and signing a pro-meat declaration of his own
3:12PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
Myanmar junta orders martial law in large area of Yangon
Myanmar’s ruling junta has declared martial law in a wide area of the country’s largest city, as security forces killed dozens of protesters over the weekend in an increasingly lethal crackdown on resistance to last month’s military coup
2:36PM ( 1 hour ago )
Myanmar junta orders martial law in 6 Yangon neighborhoods
Myanmar’s ruling junta has declared martial law in a wide area of the country’s largest city, as security forces killed dozens of protesters over the weekend in an increasingly lethal crackdown on resistance to last month’s military coup
1:57PM ( 2 hours ago )
Vatican bars gay union blessing, says God 'can't bless sin'
The Vatican has decreed that the Catholic Church won't bless same-sex unions, saying that God “cannot bless sin.”
1:22PM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Online National News
Voting underway in coronavirus-affected Dutch election
Socially distanced voters are casting their ballots in churches, conference centers and even the national parliament on the first day of a Dutch general election
3:06PM ( 1 hour ago )
Security officials to scale back fencing around US Capitol
Security officials are starting to scale back the perimeter fencing surrounding the Capitol
2:44PM ( 1 hour ago )
Biden taps Gene Sperling to oversee COVID-19 relief package
The White House says Clinton and Obama administration veteran Gene Sperling will lead the oversight for distributing funds from President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus rescue package
2:21PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
Australians rally at Parliament to demand justice for women
Australians have rallied in several cities demanding justice for women and calling out dangerous workplace cultures as the government reels from two rape allegations
5:32AM ( 10 hours ago )
Denied benefits, Chinese single moms press for change
Sarah Gao, a single mom, has been to court three times since 2017 to try to get her maternity benefits
4:25AM ( 11 hours ago )
EXPLAINER: Myanmar using martial law to 'legitimize' tactics
Myanmar’s ruling junta has imposed martial law in parts of the country’s biggest city, a day after at least 38 people were killed in the bloodiest crackdown yet on resistance to last month’s military coup
4:15AM ( 11 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
Major European nations suspend use of AstraZeneca vaccine
Germany, France, Italy and Spain have become the latest countries to suspend use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine over reports of dangerous blood clots in some recipients, though the company and European regulators have said there is no evidence the shot is to blame
4:03PM ( 11 minutes ago )
3 die when car hits 9 people in San Diego; driver in custody
San Diego authorities say a driver lost control and drove onto a sidewalk in downtown San Diego on Monday morning, killing three people and injuring six others
3:54PM ( 20 minutes ago )
Down from mountain, Japanese internee's remains return home
When Giichi Matsumura arrived at his final resting place in late December, the people who knew him best already were there
3:49PM ( 25 minutes ago )
'Mank' leads Oscar nominations in a year of record diversity
Academy Awards nominations went to two female filmmakers for the first time and a historically diverse slate of actors
3:46PM ( 27 minutes ago )
After top Grammy win, singer H.E.R. is heading to the Oscars
A night after winning the top Grammy Award for songwriting, R&B singer H
3:43PM ( 30 minutes ago )