Since October 2013 approximately 47,000 children, mostly from Central American countries, have been detained during their attempt to cross the Rio Grande at the United States-Mexican Border in Texas. Today, it is estimated that the number of children illegally crossing Rio Grande into Texas and Arizona will increase to 60,000, nearly 10 times more children than in the year 2011.
Up until now, Texas sent the captured children to local shelters within its borders, as well as shelters in Arizona in an attempt to reduce the hundreds of illegal immigrant children that were detained in Border Patrol & Detainment Facilities. However, due to the large and rising number of children, Miami has now been selected to receive children at some of their local shelters in hopes of relieving some of the burden that Texas has been carrying.
The process of creating room in the Miami shelters began nearly 3 months ago. Co-founder and executive director of Americans for Immigrant Justice, Cheryl Little mentioned that Miami shelters had added 98 beds in order to assure space for the children, and would be willing to accept more children into the facilities if needed. Last year, the nonprofit organization was responsible for helping nearly 1,600 immigrant children in the Miami area. This number is also expected to rise this year.
It has been reported that the children will be held within 3 different shelters in Miami, and will be given legal aid as many will be placed in removal proceedings. Little states that in this situation, the purpose of her organization is to provide these children with advice and information regarding their legal rights, as well as interview them to determine if there are any avenues that can be taken to provide the children with legal U.S. residential status.