Migrant teenagers in U.S. custody to reach in Dallas; Gov. Greg Abbott will go to conference heart

The downtown Dallas Convention Center will open to thousands of unaccompanied immigrant teenagers in U.S. custody on Wednesday, and Governor Greg Abbott will visit the site after criticizing the current presidential administration’s immigration response.

The Republican governor announced that he intends to discuss President Joe Biden’s handling of unaccompanied minors at a lunchtime press conference outside the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center. Col. Steve McCraw, Director of the Texas Department of Public Security, and Andrea Sparks, Director of the Governor’s Child Trafficking, Andrea Sparks, will also be present.

The U.S. Department of Health confirmed earlier Tuesday that the convention center will serve as an emergency room starting Wednesday for teenagers who have arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border to reduce overcrowding at customs and border guards.

The agency says the site will be safer than the holding areas and that officials will work to ensure that the youths who come through the site are eventually made available to a relative or sponsor. Or they are moved to other federal institutions for long-term care.

It is believed to be the first time the downtown Dallas Convention Center has been used to detain immigrants who have crossed the border from Mexico.

The federal agency said the unaccompanied children are undergoing health screenings for COVID-19. It was not said how many will arrive in Dallas on Wednesday.

Dallas City Council members and other city officials were informed by email Monday that the center would be open for up to 90 days and operated by HHS and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Up to 3,000 boys aged 15 to 17 from the Rio Grande Valley are being held there.

The grounds will be set up in the convention center’s largest exhibition hall, F, which is 203,000 square feet and had a capacity of 16,300 pre-COVID-19, said Rocky Vaz, Dallas’ office of the emergency management director.

Vaz declined to comment on the terms of the agreement with the federal government as they were still being negotiated. Other planned events will continue at the convention center while the federal site is operational, he said. As of Tuesday, no events were listed in the convention center’s online calendar.

An order from Abbott to remove all COVID-19 related restrictions, such as: B. Lifting Crew Capacity Restrictions went into effect last Wednesday.

HHS officials did not immediately respond to requests for more information, including the reasons why Dallas was selected. Another emergency room opened on Sunday in Midland, about 330 miles west of Dallas.

Alex Gilbert, a spokesman for the convention center’s Spectra management group, declined to comment on the deal.

FEMA reached out to Dallas city officials Friday to find enough space for the teenagers and the convention center was chosen, Vaz said. He didn’t know why federal authorities turned to Dallas. The deal came together this weekend after federal officials visited the website.

In a statement Monday, the governor claimed that the president’s policies “created a humanitarian crisis for unaccompanied minors crossing the border” and held it in Texas. He alluded to the possibility that some of the children might be victims of sex trafficking.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas warned on Tuesday that the US was well on the way to “seeing more people on the southwest border than in the past 20 years”. In 2000, a record 1.6 million immigrants were arrested. Around 850,000 were arrested in 2019. The majority were families and unaccompanied youth.

Mayorkas said border police see children as young as 6 years old arrive at the border without an adult. The Department of Homeland Security is required by law to refer children to HHS within 72 hours so that they can be reunited with the family. In more than 80% of cases, children have a relative in the United States, Mayorkas said.

Border guards are now overcrowded as more and more children move north.

Attention is directed to minors with a migrant background who are traveling without parents. More than 560 volunteered to look after the unaccompanied children.

Dallas immigrant supporters began their work almost immediately when FEMA and Health and Human Services reached out to key executives.

Dallas Catholic charities sent an email asking for volunteers – especially those who speak Spanish – and are ready to listen to the youth and help them work with them on activities that will calm them down and “help to create a graceful environment ”.

Catholic charities already work with HHS because they run a home for unaccompanied immigrant youth between the ages of 8 and 14. The Rio Grande Valley Catholic charities have been helping thousands of immigrants at a recreation center in McAllen for several years.

Other groups of Methodist, Presbyterian, and Jewish faiths began reactivating a coalition called the Dallas Responds in 2019.

In 2019, Oak Lawn United Methodist Church hosted migrant families who had traveled by bus from El Paso as migration increased at the border. About five dozen then arrived in Dallas.

Want to help?

For information about volunteering, please contact the Catholic Charities of Dallas at [email protected].

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