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Feds See Surprising Influx of Immigrant Children, Even as Overall Rates of the Undocumented Decline

(Susan Carroll, Houston Chronicle)
A sharp influx of undocumented immigrant children in recent months has severely strained the federal government’s capacity to provide them with shelter, leaving hundreds of children sleeping on cots in gymnasiums and in an Air Force dormitory in Texas.

More than 5,200 undocumented children and youths without parents or legal guardians in the U.S. were turned over to the Office of Refugee Resettlement in the first six months of this fiscal year – a 93 percent increase over the same time period last year, according to government data.

Kenneth Wolfe, a spokesman for the resettlement agency, said officials are at a loss to explain the reason for the increase in unaccompanied youths, who typically are held in the government-contracted shelters while their immigration cases are pending, unless the government can find a relative or custodian to take custody of them.

While the number of children and teens in the agency’s custody has soared, overall arrests of illegal immigrants have declined to lows not seen since the 1970s, government data shows.

Most of the children are from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, and immigrant advocates who work closely with them said they have not identified significant changes in their reasons for coming to the U.S. (Read more at the Houston Chronicle)

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