The federal government will funnel as much as $12.9 million into North Texas to cover costs for short term lodging, 21 days, to accommodate the latest wave of mainly Central American minors who crossed illegally into the United States at the Texas border.
BCFS, the private contractor hired by the Department of Health and Human Services to oversee these facilities, told KXAS 5, the Dallas NBC affiliate, they were alloted $12.9 million to cover up to a total of 1,400 teens. Those funds also cover costs for case management workers, food, lodging, health screenings and mental health evaluations. Camp staffers, first responders, operational and housing staff are also paid as well as inbound and outbound transportation. Approximately $6.1 million was allocated to temporarily house 700 illegal immigrant minors in Ellis County and $1.9 million in Rockwall County for approximately 200, according to WFAA 8 (ABC).
BCFS stands for Baptist Child and Family Service, the San Antonio-based charitable organization awarded $50 million last year by the Obama administration to buy the Palm Aire resort in Weslaco, TX, to house illegal minors. Because of intense backlash, BCFS withdrew that bid to transform the luxurious hotel into a 600 bed intake facility.
The unaccompanied alien children (UAC) serviced by these facilities are between ages 12 and 17. The North Texas camps arose because of shelter overcrowding in South Texas, which Breitbart Texas reported. The number of families crossing into the U.S. illegally in October reflected a 150 percent increase over the same month in 2014. U.S. Border Patrol and Customs cited as many as 10,000 youths apprehended, a 106 percent increase from the larger time period a year ago.
Although the operation is funded through federal tax dollars, Gov. Greg Abbott is making $200,000 grants available to Ellis and Rockwall counties to aid in the event overtime issues arise although Ellis County, noted the Dallas ABC-TV affiliate. However, Ellis County Sheriff Johnny Brown does not anticipate any costs to county taxpayers because BCFS is paying the off-duty and police directly. He also said that no law enforcement will be pulled from regular duty to staff the camp.
“Our cost of operation to have somebody on the camp averages between $59 and $65, sometime as high as $70, depending on events they participate in,” said Rick DuBose the Superintendent for the North Texas District of Assemblies of God. He told KXAS 5 their actions are out of compassion, not activist or politically driven.
“We cut a base rate for this to cover these kids at $60 a day per kid, which is cheaper than going to Motel 6, plus we give three meals and 2 snacks,” he added.
On December 15, local media got a glimpse of a third North Texas facility, the Lakeview Camp and Retreat Center, located near Waxahachie, which shelters 500 and expects 200 more minors this week. The Dallas NBC affiliate noted that groups of these 12-17 year-olds are rotated to play soccer, basketball and football and live on 400 acres where they sleep on bunk beds in heat and air conditioned cabins. During their tour, WFAA 8 witnessed 55 girls that took a class in a multi-purpose building; others watched movies and made crafts. Brown said there have been no security incidents or issues.
Besides the astronomical costs to house the illegals, are concerns that UAC camps will become small cities, although officials say that the children will vacate on January 1. HHS said bilingual officers are working to place the illegals with relatives already living in the U.S. until they can appear at an immigration court hearing. Those not placed with family members by New Year’s Day will be moved to another location, not yet disclosed.
Follow Merrill Hope on Twitter @OutOfTheBoxMom.