Phoenix area could be home to new federal shelter for migrant children

Jul 3, 2019, 5:30 PM

PHOENIX – The Phoenix area is among five sites under consideration for new long-term facilities for housing migrant children, a government spokesman said Wednesday.

“The search for and addition of permanent licensed facilities is being pursued to reduce the potential need for temporary influx shelters in the future,” Department of Health and Human Services spokesman Mark Weber said.

He said property in the Phoenix, Atlanta, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio, Texas, areas is being evaluated. Officials are seeking 20-year leases for most of the sites.

No specific locations were mentioned.

Properties that can hold up to 500 children are being requested in bidding documents. Buildings must have up to 100,800 square feet of space, and the properties must include about 2 acres for outdoor recreation.

Existing migrant detention facilities, especially those housing minors, have become a flashpoint in the 2020 presidential race. Several Democratic candidates last week visited a sprawling child migrant detention center in south Florida while they were in the state for the first round of their party’s debates.

Lawmakers and migrant advocates have issued scathing criticism about how the teens are treated, saying the center is more like a prison than a “shelter,” the term preferred by the facility’s operator and the government.

They also said they witnessed deplorable conditions at migrant facilities in Texas. Protests have sprung up around the country with demonstrators demanding that the centers be shut down.

Last week, border officials unveiled a temporary facility to house detained immigrants in Yuma.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Phoenix area could be home to new federal shelter for migrant children