Diplomat: Valley shelters cannot accept migrant kids from Nogales

Jun 11, 2014, 2:47 PM | Updated: 9:36 pm

PHOENIX — Slightly more than 1,000 unaccompanied minors spent the night at a makeshift holding center in Nogales, Ariz. on Tuesday.

According to the Guatemalan Consul General Jímena Diaz, 351 are minors from El Salvador, 380 from Guatemala, 342 from Honduras, seven from Ecuador, six from India, four from Nicaragua and one from Peru.

“These can be kids as young as 5 and 6 years old to 16,” said Diaz.

The minors are not going to stay in the Nogales. Once they are processed at the facility, they are relocated to shelters across Arizona. Diaz said, in the Phoenix area, there are eight shelters that are at capacity and cannot take in any more kids.

“They are full,” Diaz said, adding each shelter houses approximately 200 minors.

Diaz said upwards of 130 minors will be transported to shelters in Ventura, Calif. by Friday.

Diaz corroborated news originally given by Nogales Mayor Arturo Garino that more supplies have arrived in the Nogales facility over the last few days. The sentiment is not shared by Honorary Honduran Consul Tony Banegas, who said conditions are still dire for the immigrant children in Nogales.

Diaz does not know exactly how many kids from her home country are housed in local facilities.

As for the reasons children and adult migrants are crossing the border, Diaz believes it is a combination of factors, including unrest and economic instability in their home countries.

She said the Guatemalan government is running a campaign to improve schools and services for women and children who may be in at risk. She added climatological events are also causing havoc in Guatemala, making it difficult for citizens to make ends meet.

“We have a lot of storms and affect the position of the people,” she said, though she could not provide specific data of the impact of the storms.

Another reason, according to Diaz, is what she often hears from mothers and kids apprehended by Border Patrol.

“They say the reasons are because they don’t have another way to be with their families.”

Not all of the minors currently housed in Nogales crossed the border in Texas, as thousands are currently. A memo Diaz gave to KTAR said 892 of the minors had been transferred from Texas and the rest were apprehended in Arizona. As for the kids taken in by border Patrol on the Arizona side, Diaz said smugglers play a big role in getting the minors over to the U.S.

“The smugglers come to the children to Sonora,” she said. “At the border they tell the kids they have to walk to a [specific] point. At that point, Border Patrol will come for you.”

Diaz said she had not been told of any minors being deported.

As for the role of the Guatemalan Consulate in providing financial assistance to care for the minors housed in Nogales, Diaz said they do not provide direct monies to the U.S. government. She said her country is working to create a fund to help provide services for the children.

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Diplomat: Valley shelters cannot accept migrant kids from Nogales