HOUSTON - The Department of Homeland Security confirmed that Bush Intercontinental Airport is now being used as a transportation hub to move undocumented children caught at the Texas border to other parts of the country.
In a press release put out Thursday in response to questions from Local 2 News, Barbara Gonzalez with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said, "ICE ERO officers from Houston and elsewhere will facilitate the transfer of unaccompanied children from the Rio Grande Valley through the Houston airport to the Department of Health and Human Services at locations around the country, as required by law."
Customs officers previously used airports in Harlingen and San Antonio to do the same job, but the hub was moved to Houston because Bush Intercontinental has a greater number of connecting flights.
The children are taken to a staging area at Bush Airport where they are paired with an escort agent and flown to other locations around the country to be housed with relatives or in foster homes.
"There may be a facility available in Boston who has space available for a family and children, and we're obviously the network that would get them to Boston," said Congressman Gene Green.
Government sources say the children won't be housed in Houston unless there is a flight cancellation that can't be rescheduled within 12 hours.
Moving the transport hub to Houston was deemed necessary because of the large numbers of unescorted children currently cross the border illegally in south Texas.
Houstonians advocating fair treatment for immigrants held a press conference in Terminal D at the airport Thursday afternoon.
Cesar Espinoza with F.I.E.L. said, "We want to point out this is a humanitarian crisis, it is not a political crisis. This is something that involves children, so special care needs to be taken of them."
Espinoza says he and other advocates were concerned about a replay of the demonstration in California early this week where anti-immigrant protestors blocked buses carrying undocumented women and children to a detention center near San Diego.
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