To deal with the surge in unaccompanied minor migrants crossing the southern border, the Biden administration is planning on housing up to 3,000 teenagers at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas, The Associated Press reports.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic and social distancing measures, there is limited space at immigration facilities, and last month, a temporary tent facility was reopened in Carrizo Springs, Texas, to hold up to 700 teens. AP obtained a memo sent to the Dallas City Council on Monday that states the convention center will be used to house boys ages 15 to 17, for up to 90 days. The government could start placing teens there as early as this week, the memo says.
In February, authorities encountered 9,457 unaccompanied minors crossing the border, the highest number since May 2019. The Border Patrol is only supposed to hold migrant children for up to three days, before transferring them to shelters run by the Department of Health and Human Services, but because there are so many minors in custody, more are being detained for longer periods of time. The convention center is being described as a "decompression center," AP reports, and will take pressure off the Border Patrol facilities.
"I am incredibly proud of the agents of the Border Patrol, who have been working around the clock in difficult circumstances to take care of children temporarily in our care," Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement. "Yet, as I have said many times, a Border Patrol facility is no place for a child." In a statement, Dallas City Manager T.C. Broadnax said that "collective action is necessary, and we will do our best to support this humanitarian effort."