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FEMA to help shelter influx of migrant children at the border

Roughly 4,000 young migrants were in Customs and Border Protection facilities this week, more than the 2,600 children and teenagers held in such detention facilities in June 2019. In February,  9,457 children, including teenagers, were detained at the border without a parent in February, up from more than 5,800 in January.

Photo by Phil Botha on Unsplash

The Biden administration so far has not been able to quickly process the young migrants and transfer them to shelters managed by the Department of Health and Human Services.

The administration has struggled to expand the capacity of those shelters, and has recently directed the shelters to normal capacity, despite the coronavirus pandemic.

Now, the Biden administration is directing the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to assist in processing the increasing number of young migrants as criticism mounts over their treatment in detention facilities.

FEMA will help find shelter space and provide “food, water and basic medical care” to thousands of young migrants, Michael Hart, a spokesman for the agency, said in a statement.

Additionally, the Homeland Security Department has been asked to volunteer “to help care for and assist unaccompanied minors” who have been held in border jails that are managed by Customs and Border Protection.

The Health and Human Services Department also opened a temporary facility for the children and teenagers on Sunday in Midland, Texas, to help migrants out of the border facilities, according to Mark Weber, a spokesman for the agency. 

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and other Republicans have characterized the increase in border crossings as a direct result of Mr. Biden’s goal to roll back President Donald J. Trump’s restrictive immigration policies.“They express surprise and shock about the fact that they are overwhelmed, when the Border Patrol and really everybody here in Texas has known that this is coming,” Mr. Abbott said.

However, President Biden has kept a Trump-era pandemic emergency rule that empowers border agents to rapidly turn away migrants at the border, with the exception of unaccompanied minors.

Latinxs children detention centers

Protests in Elizabeth, NJ about immigrant children detention. Photo credit Chris Boese – Unsplash.com

Officials from the Health and Human Services Department have also been placed at border facilities in an attempt to find sponsors for migrant children faster. 

Last week, the administration rescinded a 2018 agreement that allowed the agency to share certain information about sponsors for the children with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Immigration advocates said the agreement discouraged relatives of the youths from stepping forward to sponsor them, creating a backlog in the system.

Representative Veronica Escobar, Democrat of Texas, said she found the situation at a processing facility that she had toured in El Paso on Friday “unacceptable.”

“A Border Patrol facility is no place for a child,” Alejandro N. Mayorkas, the homeland security secretary, said in a statement on Saturday. “Our goal is to ensure that unaccompanied children are transferred to H.H.S. as quickly as possible.”

Hurricane Harvey recovery

Top 5 steps to your Hurricane Harvey recovery

Hurricane Harvey recovery is deemed to be one of the longest and most expensive tasks we will have to face in many years to come. Here are some insights from the SBA Administrator, Linda McMahon, on how her office can help. In New Jersey, we lived through Hurricane Sandy and it was a devastating experience for many residents as well as businesses without an appropriate recovery plan. Many never did recover. Reach out to the SBA to require help and assistance, do not delay! 

Hurricane Harvey recovery

Soldiers with the Texas Army National Guard move through flooded Houston streets (U.S. Army photo by 1st Lt. Zachary West Wikimedia Commons)

 

By Linda McMahon, SBA Administrator
Published: September 1, 2017

Over the past week, as the people of the Gulf Coast deal with the unprecedented effects of Hurricane Harvey, we have seen heartbreaking moments of tragedy, of lives lost, homes destroyed and neighborhoods left in ruin, as well as remarkable acts of heroism and compassion as the first responders and people of Texas and Louisiana help each other survive. I have visited Texas twice in the past week and want to extend to the Gulf community my thoughts and prayers, as well as my commitment to help them get their lives back in order through the resources available through the U.S. Small Business Administration. While FEMA addresses immediate needs like food, water and shelter in the aftermath of a declared disaster, the SBA is your partner for long-term recovery.

Experts say Hurricane Harvey will pose one of the longest and costliest post-disaster rebuilding efforts in U.S. history. If you’re a homeowner, renter or business owner facing the overwhelming task of cleaning up water-logged debris and starting over again, I’d like to share these first steps that are important in making your recovery a little easier:

  • Register for federal assistance with FEMA online at DisasterAssistance.gov, or call FEMA at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362).  This gets you quickly connected with a  variety of recovery resources available from our federal partners, which includes housing assistance, grants and SBA disaster loans.
  • Check out SBA’s Hurricane Harvey page, where you can get information about how to apply for low-interest disaster loans for homeowners, renters, businesses of all sizes, and private nonprofit organizations.
  • The SBA is offering loan deferments on existing loans to businesses and individuals in the counties affected by Hurricane Harvey. Read this policy noticeDownload Adobe Reader to read this link content for more details.
  • Beware of scams!  If someone tells you they’ll help with your SBA disaster loan application or other forms of federal recovery assistance “for a small fee,” they’re running a scam. Federal assistance programs are available to the public at no cost. Ask for identification. Protect yourself from fraudulent building contractors by asking for appropriate licenses and local references.

Now the real work begins. The SBA is committed to standing by Gulf Coast residents and businesses for the long haul. We are committee to restoring the local economy over the long term and laying a strong foundation for future growth.

Hurricane Harvey recovery

U.S Border Patrol agent Mario Fuentes searches for survivors among the rubble of a mobile home after Hurricane Harvey near Rockport, Texas, Aug. 27, 2017. U.S. Customs and Border Protection photo by Glenn Fawcett (Wikimedia Commons)