Local officials in one North Texas county may have been the last to learn that the U.S. Health and Human Services Department is sending them approximately 300 illegal immigrant minors to temporarily house before the end of December.
According to the Glen Rose Reporter, HHS officials notified the wrong county about these arrangements on Friday. They alerted neighboring Johnson County Sheriff Bob Alford that a new crop of unaccompanied alien children (UAC) would be sent to Camp Arrowhead on December 30. However, Camp Arrowhead is located in Somervell County in Cleburne, southwest of the Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) metropolitan area. It will house the illegal minors for 21 days, much like other temporary shelters operational in the region.
The local newspaper pointed out that because of the address confusion, Somervell County Judge Danny L. Chambers learned of the plans to open the latest temporary housing facility from Johnson County Judge Roger Harmon and Sheriff Bob Alford, not the HHS. Over the weekend, Somervell County officials had not yet heard from any federal officials.
However, HHS contacted Roger Williams about the incoming UAC. The local Glen Rose newspaper noted that on Thursday, Williams requested that HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell not house illegal immigrant minors at Fort Hood. Williams also urged President Barack Obama in a December 16 letter “not to house illegal immigrants on any military base.” That letter also stated: “Futhermore, your Adminstration should commit to securing the border and focus your efforts on reuniting these children with their families in their native countries.”
The number of illegal immigrant minors coming to Camp Arrowhead was originally reported by news outlets as 200; however, the Glen Rose Reporter indicated that figure was upped to 300 late Friday evening.
Texas state law caps the amount of time to temporarily house minors at 21 days, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported, adding that HHS spokeswoman Andrea Helling said Sunday the average stay for kids under HHS control is 30 days, so it is possible that children from Ellis and/or Rockwall counties could be transferred to Somervell once their three week window expires in the respective venues.
Helling advised the minors are between the ages of 12-17 and are from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. The facility will have full security and the youths will be medically screened before they arrive at Somervell, according to Dallas ABC affiliate WFAA 8.
Last week, Breitbart Texas reported it could cost federal taxpayers as much as $12.9 million to cover short term costs of 21 days of lodging to accommodate illegal immigrant minor housing in Ellis and Rockwall counties, also adjacent to the DFW area. There is no expectation of fiscal impact upon the local taxpayer.
“What I am being told right now is strictly unofficial, but I should have more on Monday, ” Chambers said over the weekend, according to the Glen Rose newspaper. “I am being told that the federal government is going to pay for 12 off duty police officers. Six will work a 12-hour shift and the other six will work the other 12-hour shift. The Feds will be billed for their services and they will also be responsible for reimbursing for the officers’ services. I am being told that no money will come out of the local budget.”
Follow Merrill Hope on Twitter @OutOfTheBoxMom.