The federal government is opening a mass facility to hold migrant children in Texas and may detain hundreds more youths on three military bases around the U.S., adding up to 3,000 new beds to the already overtaxed system, the Associated Press reports. The new emergency facility in Carrizo Springs, Tx., will hold as many as 1,600 teens in a complex that once housed oil field workers on government-leased land near the border, said Mark Weber of the Office of Refugee Resettlement. The agency is weighing using Army and Air Force bases in Georgia, Montana and Oklahoma to house an additional 1,400 kids in the coming weeks, amid an influx of children traveling to the U.S. alone. Most of the children crossed the border without their parents, escaping violence and corruption in Central America, and are held in government custody while authorities determine if they can be released to relatives or family friends.
The new facilities are temporary emergency shelters, so they won’t be subject to state child welfare licensing requirements. In January, the government shut down an unlicensed detention camp in the Texas desert under political pressure, and an unlicensed facility called Homestead remains in operation in the Miami suburbs. Under fire for the death of two children who went through the agency’s network of shelters and facing lawsuits over the treatment of teens in its care, the agency says it must set up new facilities to accommodate new arrivals or risk running out of beds. In May, border agents apprehended 11,507 children traveling alone.