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Central Texas Local News | kcentv.com

Foster parents are desperately needed to care for immigrant children at the border

Up to 85% of children have a relative in the U.S., so at least 15% of children will need a foster parent in order to be released from federal immigration facilities.

HOUSTON — Texas Governor Greg Abbott is doubling down on his demand to shut down an emergency intake site for child immigrant in San Antonio.

In a letter from Gov. Abbott to U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, the Texas governor includes detailed of three reports of potential misconduct inside the Freeman Coliseum in San Antonio.

READ: Letter from TX Governor Abbott to Vice President Harris

The first two reports were received Tuesday morning, April 6. Among the allegations made at 9:32 a.m. were claims of sexual abuse between children during unsupervised showers. A second report filed one minute later at 6:33 a.m. claimed children don’t have enough to eat and that some are being bullied.

Governor Abbott called on the Texas Rangers to investigate during a Wednesday evening press conference outside of the coliseum. KHOU 11 is waiting on various state agencies to provide an explanation of why a state investigation was launched more than 24 hours after the Texas Department of Family Protective Services and The Texas Health & Human Services Commission received the complaints.

The allegations spotlight the urgent need to get children out of federal facilities.

You might be able to help the thousands of children who are illegally entering into the United States of America without their parent. Because the children are not accompanied by a parent, the federal government has to take care of them.

However, there’s not enough space in permanent child immigrant facilities, so the Biden administration is opening emergency intake sites. Nearly a dozen of them stretch across Texas, including this one in Houston.

U.S. Representative Sylvia Garcia just visited with the 450 teen girls who are being held at the Houston site until the federal government can place them with a sponsor. A sponsor is someone who can care for the child in the U.S. as the child’s case moves through immigration courts. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, sponsors can be: parents, legal guardians, relatives or a stranger.

“85 percent of these children have a family member here," Garcia said.

Once in federal custody, each child is assigned a case worker that works to reunite children with family. An application, interview, background check and home study are required. A parent is eligible even if they’re undocumented. But sometimes family members are suitable to care for a child.

FAQ: HOW TO SPONSOR AN IMMIGRANT CHILD

That’s where foster parents come in. The federal government works with two groups:

APPLY TO FOSTER CHILDREN: Lutheran Immigration & Refugee Services

APPLY TO FOSTER CHILDREN:  U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

It takes time to get approved through the organization, and then again through the federal government. But unaccompanied children have illegally crossed the border for years. Foster families are always needed.

Right now, HHS reports unaccompanied children are averaging 37 days in federal custody. The majority of children released so far this fiscal year re going to sponsors in Harris County.

“So as quickly as we can get them in the process with the case workers tracking down those parents, vetting them to make sure they are the parents,” Garcia said. “Doing the due diligence. That’s the goal.”