After a large decrease in January, there was an increase of migrant children held in Texas shelters in the month of February, and once again, the Rio Grande Valley is where most of the unaccompanied minors are being held.
But although there is growth in the state, and we do have the highest number of children in our area, there has been a decline of around 60 children in Rio Grande Valley shelters, but for immigration activists, the number is still too high.
“What we see is that there’s still a lot of children in shelters and no child should be left in these shelters where there is not sufficient infrastructure for transparency and accountability,” said Christina Patiño Houle, with the Equal Voice Network.
There was a huge decline of migrant children in shelters in January, after the controversial tent facility in Tornillo closed, and after the administration relaxed its screening policies that activists said slowed the placement of migrant kids with relatives and other sponsors.
“Living in a shelter and being in conditions where you’re subject to abuse of any kind is going to have lifelong impact on a child especially when there at the tender age or when they’re in different developmental phases, that’s something that’s going to really impact who they are for the rest of their lives,” Patiño Houle said.
As of late February, there were more than 5,659 children living in Texas shelters. 9 in Fort Worth, 969 in Houston, 376 in San Antonio, 284 in Corpus, only 208 in El Paso after the tent shelter closed, and 3813 in the Brownsville area, to the dismay of immigration and children activists.
“What we need and what we advocate for is for those children to be reunited with us with their families. Children don’t belong in shelters they belong with their parents,” she said.
And with this number of migrant children living in Texas licensed shelters, the state is now at 90 percent capacity.
According to the US office of Refugee Resettlement, there were at ten thousand children being held in federal shelters in January.