HOUSTON, Texas — Soon, West Texas could be home to the nation’s largest shelter for unaccompanied minors who entered the U.S. illegally.
A proposed housing facility called the Abraham Lincoln Transitional Lodge would be able to accommodate 3,500 youths at once, according to KHOU. Its location would be just southeast of El Paso.
The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services is apparently reviewing the bid for the shelter. According to the Houston Chronicle, the proposed facility’s backers have a history of investing in housing for employees of Texas’ gas and oil industry.
Tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors and family units from Central America have poured over the Texas-Mexico border this year; federal agents transported most of the immigrants to facilities around the country while they wait to be processed. During their relatively short stay at such shelters, the migrants receive taxpayer-subsidized benefits such as food, clothing, schooling, English lessons, vocational training, recreation, and even legal counsel.
Some of the facilities have received heavy scrutiny for providing too many services to the immigrants. One shelter in South Texas is providing the migrants, referred to by staff as “residents,” with taxpayer-subsidized luxuries such as all-you-can-eat buffets, flat screen televisions, Internet access, and hair salons. That particular facility costs $140 a day per person to operate, according to CBS Houston.
It is easy to understand why many U.S. citizens, many of whom cannot afford these amenities for their own families, would be frustrated that their tax dollars are being used in this manner.
After a relatively short stay in a federal housing unit, most of the migrants are released onto U.S. soil on the promise that they will show up for an immigration court hearing at a later date. Illegal immigrants have been set free in states around the nation including Hawaii, Alaska, and even the Virgin Islands.
Follow Kristin Tate on Twitter @KristinBTate.