Ariz. rushes sup­plies to site hold­ing mi­grant kids

The Covington News - - OPINION -

PHOENIX (AP) — An­gry about the federal govern­ment send­ing from Texas to Ari­zona im­mi­grants who are in the coun­try il­le­gally, Ari­zona of­fi­cials say they are rush­ing federal sup­plies to a makeshift hold­ing cen­ter in the south­ern part of the state that’s hous­ing hun­dreds of mi­grant chil­dren and is run­ning low on the ba­sics.

Gov. Jan Brewer’s spokesman, Andrew Wilder, said Fri­day that con­di­tions at the hold­ing cen­ter are so dire that federal of­fi­cials have asked the state to im­me­di­ately ship the med­i­cal sup­plies to the cen­ter in No­gales.

A Home­land Se­cu­rity Depart­ment of­fi­cial told The As­so­ci­ated Press that chil­dren are sleep­ing on plas­tic cots but about 2,000 mat­tresses have been or­dered, and por­ta­ble toi­lets and show­ers have been brought to the hold­ing cen­ter — a ware­house that has not been used for de­ten­tion in years.

The of­fi­cial, who who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause there was no au­tho­riza­tion to dis­cuss the mat­ter pub­licly, said the No­gales hold­ing cen­ter opened for chil­dren be­cause the Depart­ment of Health and Hu­man Ser­vices had nowhere to turn.

“They be­came so overwhelmed and haven’t kept up with plan­ning,” the of­fi­cial said.

U.S. Im­mi­gra­tions and Cus­toms En­force­ment has said the im­mi­grants were mostly fam­i­lies from Cen­tral Amer­ica flee­ing ex­treme poverty and vi­o­lence.

Wilder said a to­tal of 432 un­ac­com­pa­nied mi­nors de­tained in Texas ar­rived in No­gales on Fri­day, with 367 more ex­pected both Satur­day and Sun­day.

The Home­land Se­cu­rity of­fi­cial said as many as 1,400 chil- dren are ex­pected to be even­tu­ally brought to the ware­house, which has a ca­pac­ity of about 1,500.

Federal au­thor­i­ties plan to use the No­gales fa­cil­ity as a way sta­tion, where the chil­dren will be vac­ci­nated and checked med­i­cally. They will then be sent to fa­cil­i­ties be­ing set up in Ven­tura, Cal­i­for­nia, San An­to­nio, Texas, and Fort Sill, Ok­la­homa.

The Home­land Se­cu­rity of­fi­cial said that the chil­dren are be­ing moved out of the No­gales site as soon as Health and Hu­man Ser­vices finds places for them. But the of­fi­cial said: “As quickly as we move them out, we get more. We be­lieve this is just a start.”

The chil­dren be­ing held in No­gales are 17 or younger. The of­fi­cial es­ti­mated three of ev­ery four were at least 16.

Wilder said re­ports from con­sulates that the U.S. Depart­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity was stop­ping the pro­gram to fly mi­grant fam­i­lies to Ari­zona and then bus them to Phoenix were in­cor­rect. In­stead, the pro­gram that has shipped un­known thou­sands of adult mi­grants and their chil­dren to Ari­zona since last month shows no sign of stop­ping, he said.

“The adults, the adults with chil­dren, fam­i­lies — that continues un­fet­tered and we have no idea where they are go­ing,” Wilder said.

AP Photo/Rick Scuteri

FILE - In this May 29, 2014 file photo, Maria Eva Casco, left, and her son Chris­tian Casco of El Sal­vador, sit at at the Grey­hound bus ter­mi­nal, Thurs­day, May 29, 2014 in Phoenix. Cen­tral Amer­i­can fam­i­lies ar­rested in Texas will con­tinue to be flown to Ari­zona, and hun­dreds of un­ac­com­pa­nied mi­nors a day are be­ing shipped to a federal de­ten­tion cen­ter in the south­ern part of the state, Gov. Jan Brewer’s spokesman says.

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