The U.S. will begin using the downtown Dallas convention center as a “decompression center,” to house up to 3,000 migrant teenagers, specifically boys ages 15 to 17, according to a memo obtained by the AP.
Why it matters: The convention center’s conversion comes amid a rise in border crossings that has strained sheltering capacities along the U.S.-Mexico border. The Department of Health and Human Services is moving to open new facilities to house the children.
Flashback: The CDC had allowed shelters housing children to expand to full capacity in spite of a previous COVID-19 safety protocol, a change that highlighted the extent of the housing capacity crisis, Axios previously reported.
What’s more: The surge at the border has already prompted the creation of new shelters for children, including a tent facility in Donna, Texas that is housing “more than 1,000 children and teenagers, some as young as 4,” according to AP.
- The government is also considering housing unaccompanied minors in a military base in Virginia, Reuters reports.
A Pentagon spokesman confirmed that Fort Lee, a U.S. Army facility about 30 miles (48 km) south of Richmond, was under consideration.
The number of migrant children arriving at the southwestern border has increased in recent months, putting pressure on HHS-run shelters that house the children before they are released to parents or other sponsors in the United States.
In the notice, HHS said it urgently needs to find more shelter space for unaccompanied minors. The department said it must “aggressively” find solutions for the rising number of children entering the country amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The number of migrants caught crossing the border and allowed to enter the United States has increased in recent weeks, as U.S. President Joe Biden, a Democrat, has pledged to reverse many of the hardline policies of former President Donald Trump, a Republican.