Fort Bliss Is Now Home To Almost 500 Illegal Immigrant Kids

REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez

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JP Carroll National Security & Foreign Affairs Reporter
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Fort Bliss, Texas, home of the U.S. Army Air Defense Artillery School and the 1st Armoraed Division, is now host to almost 500 Central American children illegally in the U.S.

The kids are under the stewardship of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Administration for Children and Families. Each child costs the U.S. taxpayers $750 per day that they are in Fort Bliss’ temporary shelter facilities. If the kids were housed in permanent facilities, costs would go down to $223 per day.

Ages of the unaccompanied minors range from 13 to 17, and if any of them have their 18th birthday while at Fort Bliss, HHS will transfer them over to the custody of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Kids tend to stay in the shelter on average for 35 days.

The military facility was selected to be a temporary shelter for the young illegal immigrants because it is close both to the border and to permanent shelters. For Bliss officially opened its doors as an illegal immigrant shelter Sept. 6.

Over recent years, children have increasingly crossed the border illegally without parents or guardians. The fiscal year 2014 saw 58,000 youngsters coming into the U.S. and getting caught. The figures came down in 2015 to 34,000, but are on the rise once again for fiscal year 2016 with 47,000 having come into the U.S. as of July.

To stay at Fort Bliss, the children have to get vaccines and undergo a medical screening. If a girl is 10-years-old, she is tested for pregnancy.

It takes 300 staffers including teachers, care workers and command staff are among those that make sure the kids are alright. There are eight children per shelter staffer.

The Dona Ana Range Complex has 26 beds per dorm and the kids are fed food that meets the standards for the Texas public school system. In their dining room, the kids enjoy from time to time both movie and karaoke nights.

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