The U.S. government on Tuesday intensified the search for shelters to house the thousands of undocumented minors who have arrived in the southern part of the country from Central America and began vaccinating them to prevent outbreaks of assorted diseases.
Here in the border city of Nogales, a total of 1,118 minors have been housed in a Border Patrol warehouse, where they have been sleeping in plastic containers wrapped with aluminum thermal blankets and where they are using portable toilets.
“The problem is that few are leaving and many are coming in,” the honorary consul for Honduras in Arizona, Tony Vanegas, told Efe on Tuesday regarding the children’s situation.
The warehouse had served as a processing station for undocumented adults, mostly Mexicans, who were going to be deported back to their country.
The children are arriving at Border Patrol centers in Arizona and other states from southeastern Texas, where there has been a spectacular increase in the number of illegal entries by unaccompanied minors.
By the end of the year, the number of undocumented children arriving in the southern United States could total 60,000, according to calculations made by the authorities.
Given that huge inflow, President Barack Obama last week acknowledged that the country is faced with an “urgent humanitarian situation” and announced the creation of an inter-agency Coordination Group to address the problem.
The consuls of the three Central American countries who have children in the old processing center for undocumented migrants in Nogales have expressed their unease over the situation their compatriots are experiencing.
The Salvadoran consul in Tucson, Joaquin Chacon, told Efe that this “improvised storehouse” is not adapted at present to receive children.
He said that health authorities have planned on Tuesday to begin vaccinating the kids to prevent illnesses after receiving criticism last week for releasing some minors at bus stations without having given them medical checkups or vaccinations.
“It’s something for which we weren’t prepared and we saw it coming since October, first there were ladies, mothers with their children, now it’s the kids themselves,” said Guatemalan Vice Consul Carlos de Leon.