United States

Homestead Housing Shelter For Children Caught Crossing U.S.- Mexico Border

A shelter in Homestead is temporarily housing kids from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador who are caught illegally crossing the U.S. border in Mexico without any parents with them.

The old Homestead Job Corps Center has been transformed into temporary housing for unaccompanied immigrant children. It's the only shelter of its kind in the United States.

Once in federal custody, by law the Department of Homeland Security is required within 72 hours to transfer the custody of the children to the Department of Health and Human Services. Children stay in a care facility on average 32 days while a sponsor is identified, with whom they can live while they await their immigration hearing.

The shelter has been up and running for just a month, and in a little more than a week has taken in two hundred kids.

One human rights advocated said she just wants to make sure the children are living in the best conditions possible and they're being treated fairly.

She added: "I think we should make sure their rights are being respected particularly their rights as children, as refugees as children. We should be treating them to humanity."

Health and Human Services opened the shelter up to tours this week for non-profits, advocates and elected officials.

While there are not exact costs determined for this facility, the Department of Health Human Services said that at similar temporary shelters in 2014 it cost approximately $500 per child; able to hold 800 kids between the ages 13 and 17. They added that most kids do secure sponsors during the roughly 4 weeks they're here from a parent, close family member or relative.

The Department of Health and Human Services says the program took in 33,000 kids last year, the second highest on record. Currently, 2016 is on track to surpass that.

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