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Dallas emergency shelter sees spike in number of teen migrants

Dallas emergency shelter sees spike in number of teen migrants
© getty:The border barrier between the U.S. (L) and Mexico runs down a hillside on May 20, 2019 as taken from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.

More than 1,700 teenage migrant boys are being held at a temporary shelter at the Dallas convention center operated by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), awaiting transfer to a permanent shelter or the arrival of family members already in the U.S., a number that is up from just a few hundred last week.

The Dallas Morning News reported Wednesday that about 1,750 teenagers are currently being held at the facility, most of whom arrived after long journeys from Central America. That number is up from just around 200 who were housed at the facility on Friday when CNN reported on Wednesday that the first arrivals had started showing up at the facility.

Local volunteer groups have been organizing to visit with the children and told the Morning News that most of the teens are relieved to have arrived but added that many say they have faced trauma during their journeys and are languishing in the "temporary" shelter.

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“These kids have been through a lot of trauma,” said Irene Mugambi, a regional head of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, in an interview with the Morning News. “They want to live their lives like any human being. We have to be there to comfort them.”

Dave Woodyard, CEO of Catholic Charities of Dallas, said that most of the “kids are safe, they are dry and they are fed. They are on a path to get reunited or into a permanent shelter and having a much better life ahead of them.”

The American Red Cross also confirmed to CNN that its volunteers were onsite assisting with the migrant teens.

"In response to a recent surge of young people arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border without parents or guardians, the American Red Cross has been asked to temporarily support FEMA [the Federal Emergency Management Agency] and the Office of Refugee Resettlement [ORR] to ensure these unaccompanied children have a safe place to stay," a spokesperson said.

A spokesman for Health and Human Services told the Morning News last week that migrants are tested for COVID-19 regularly at the facility.

“All children are tested for COVID-19 before being transported to Dallas. The children are again COVID-19 tested upon arrival, and then subsequently every 3 days," the spokesman said.

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The situation at the Dallas facility highlights the growing problem the Biden administration is facing at the southern border.

Thousands of migrant children, most of whom arrived without family members, are awaiting transfer to permanent shelters or the guardianship of a family member in "temporary" shelters while remaining in the CBP facilities long beyond the 72-hour limit allowed by law.

Vice President Harris addressed the ongoing situation on Wednesday, telling reporters it would not be solved "overnight."

"I've been down to the border ... yes, we will go," Harris told CBS This Morning. "In addition to the border, we also need to deal with the root causes [of migration]."