Officials struggle to house children flocking across border - KYTX CBS 19 Tyler Longview News Weather Sports

Officials struggle to house children flocking across border

(CBS) - Authorities are facing a growing problem of where to house tens of thousands of unaccompanied children from Central and South America, streaming across the southwestern border of the United States.

Federal officials are regrouping this weekend aftea town in Virginia balked at a plan to settle up to 500 children there.

The Department of Health and Human Services needs more
space to house the children crossing the border unaccompanied. It had planned to house busloads of them at an empty college campus in Lawrenceville, Virginia.

But the Office of Refugee Resettlement was forced to scrap the plan afte
r a community backlash.

"We do apologize for the fact that you heard about this project too far along," an official said.

Residents packed a high school auditorium to voice their discontent.

"Locate them in D.C. where you can keep a very close eye on their welfare rather than putting them in our backyard," one man said.

Since October, 52,000 unaccompanied children have been picked up trying to cross into the U.S., a 99 percent increase over last year. The Border Patrol has also seen a record number of adults with kids crossing.

Those families create a unique problem for authorities: They can't be housed in adult detention centers, which in many places are the only available facilities.

So many families are now being given a court summons for an immigration hearing and then released.

Some of those coming to the U.S. believe they may have a better chance of staying.

"Supposedly, they are letting people with children in," said Blanca Gutierrez. She came from Honduras to Mexico, hoping to cross into the U.S.

Raul Ortiz is a deputy chief patrol agent in south Texas. He says agents are now apprehending up to 1,400 men, women and children each day.

"Unfortunately we're still finding ourselves in a position where other agencies are trying to open up shelters so they can have sufficient bed space for the amount of people that we're dealing with right now," he said.

The administration is setting up a temporary holding center for adults with children at a federal training center in New Mexico. The facility will hold up to 700 people, but they still need more.


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