DALLAS – About 800 immigrant children from Central America who have entered the United States will be moved to campsites in the Dallas area over the coming days and will be subject to strict security measures during their temporary stays, local officials said on Thursday.
The move comes due to what U.S. officials said is an increase in the number of unaccompanied minors who have entered the country illegally in the last few months. The numbers of children rapidly escalated in the summer of 2014, totaling nearly 63,000 for the 10 months ended July 2014. Many were fleeing criminal gangs and drug-related violence.
Lakeview Camp and Retreat Center in Ellis County, run by the Assemblies of God of North Texas, are due to care for 500 migrant youth. Another 300 Central American children will be housed at Sabine Creek Ranch, a Christian camp, in Rockwall County, according to statements from both camps.
Officials in Ellis and Rockwall counties said they received little notice from state and federal agencies of the arrival of the children.
“My issue was the short notice and not having time to
prepare in a better fashion,” Ellis County Sheriff Johnny Brown told a news conference on Thursday. He said the campsite in the county will be patrolled around the clock and function like a mini city.
Reverend Rick DuBose, superintendent of the Assemblies of God of North Texas, told the same news conference that his group was honored to give the children a place to stay for next three weeks.
“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,” he said.
Ellis County Commissioner Paul Perry told Reuters: “We have been assured that the cost of housing and security will be borne by the federal government.”
The previous surge in unaccompanied minors created what the Obama administration described as a humanitarian crisis. To contain it, U.S. authorities opened temporary shelters, reassigned border agents, added processing centers and immigration judges and started Spanish-language campaigns in the countries most of the children were fleeing – El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.
It also led to sharp criticism from Republican leaders who said the Democratic president was not doing enough to secure the border.
(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Frances Kerry)
This article was written by Marice Richter from Reuters and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.