They live in a bubble: In a few days, the almost 1, undocumented minors in the center — the biggest of its type — will know whether they will be deported or if they may stay until their legal situation is resolved. And a fourth of these children are gripped by a different fear entirely, as they came into this country with their parents but were separated from them at the border.
Since April, any adult caught entering the USA illegally is prosecuted and taken into federal custody; if they are accompanied by a minor, this minor is transferred to the social services.
The system is opaque, and its reach is unknown so far. It is not unusual for a parent to be deported while their child remains in the US. A total of 1, children were separated from their parents between April 19 and May 31 alone as they entered the US at official border crossings, based on the numbers collected by Associated Press.
However, so far there has been no deterrent effect powerful enough to stop immigrants — primarily from Central America — from journeying to the US in search of a better life.
Additionally, there is no precedent for a policy of this magnitude. The Republican administration is running out of beds, and beginning to transfer adult detainees into prisons; there are even plans for creating tent cities on military bases. The children are dressed in t-shirts and shorts, and many wear rosary necklaces. That day the center was sheltering 1, minors, just 28 below the limit.
They arrived here after spending a maximum of 72 hours in a police holding center. But the ratio of minors traveling with their families and separated at the border is growing, too.
On average the boys spend 49 days there, while the national average is 56 days. The US government has 11, minors in its care in hundreds of centers, according to the latest data, which did not specify how many had been separated from their relatives.
The minors abandon the centers once they have found a family member in the US or a foster family is found. The children will be with them until a judge decides whether they can stay or not in the US.
However, social services announced that they had lost 1, children when their guardians would not answer the phone. Many speculate that they do not answer because they too are undocumented immigrants , or because they want to avoid presenting the child to a judge.
It opened in after an old abandoned Walmart superstore that took up 2. On the day of the visit each of the rooms held four beds in the beginning but a fifth cot was being added due to the amount of kids they have to shelter. Half of the boys go to classes in the morning while the other half goes in the afternoon. At each meal, long lines form for food. On the walls of the rooms and hallways hang motivational posters and patriotic posters. It looks like a summer camp.
But only superficially, as the details show how the minors are not free. Each one wears a bracelet tag.
The employees wear earpieces and they supervise every movement. When a minor arrives, they are isolated for 72 hours with medical supervision. The complex is a bunker, wrapped in an air of secrecy, surrounded by fences and security guards.
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Casa Padre is located on a typical American suburban avenue, surrounded by fast food joints and gas stations. Life goes on around the center despite the stories of the almost 1, children in it. He emigrated to the US in and now has permanent residency status. He came in search of a better job and safety. He detests the forced separation of families and commends the immigrants.
English version by Andres Cayuela More information.
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