Two key shifts in undocumented immigration practices are taking place.
The primary crossing location has moved from the Arizona desert, where filming for “Gospel Without Borders” took place, to Texas’ Rio Grande Valley, and children from Central America are crossing in record numbers.
A press release from Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s office noted that more than 160,000 undocumented immigrants had been apprehended so far in 2014, compared to 154,453 for all of 2013.
“Additionally, 34,000 unaccompanied alien children (UAC) have been apprehended in Texas so far this year….28,352 UAC were apprehended in fiscal year 2013,” the press release said.
The state of Texas has enacted a “surge operation of increased law enforcement” to curb the influx while the Obama administration plans to add more immigration judges and create new detention facilities.
While adults or families with children are dropped off at bus stations with orders to appear at a future hearing, The Texas Tribune detailed the steps for processing unaccompanied children.
First, they are placed in a temporary detention center near the border. Next, family members in the U.S. are sought. If none are found, they are placed into emergency shelters, which currently have only 4,329 beds statewide.
The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) has expressed concern over the increased risk of infectious diseases spreading at these shelters, and the Texas Medical Association has urged Obama and Perry to help fund medical aid to curb the spread of diseases.
Meanwhile, local churches and nonprofits are mobilizing to help.
Don Sewell, director of Faith in Action Initiatives at Baylor Scott and White Health, told EthicsDaily.com that they sent a trailer of supplies to the border around five weeks ago.
This included more than 250 bags of hygiene and first aid supplies as well as eight boxes of other critically needed medical supplies.
Sacred Heart Catholic Church in McAllen has created an emergency shelter for immigrants awaiting their deportation hearing, The Brownsville Herald reported.
Sacred Heart is one of two emergency centers set up by the Catholic Church, according to Catholic News Service (CNS).
The second is housed in a Brownsville gym while a third in Harlingen in being planned.
Sister Norma Pimentel, executive director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, told CNS that the influx is due, in part, to inaccurate information circulating in Central America about immigrants with children or unaccompanied children being granted asylum.
Editor’s note: EthicsDaily.com has numerous immigration resources available. Columns, news articles and editorials can be found here. “Gospel Without Borders,” our documentary on faith and immigration, can be ordered here.