Every day, between 100 and 150 children will be apprehended at the southern the border without a parent or guardian. When apprehended, these children become classified as unaccompanied alien children (UAC).
Every day, between 100 and 150 children will be apprehended at the southern the border without a parent or guardian. When apprehended, these children become classified as unaccompanied alien children (UAC). UACs are first taken to a customs and border protection (CBP) holding facility. These facilities were originally designed to house immigrants for less than 12 hours, but they can now be held there for up to 72 or more hours. Immigrants have come to call these facilities "hieleras" (Spanish for iceboxes) because of how cold they are kept. Children that arrived with their parents are separated here, and they are put in separate chain-link fenced holding areas.
For minors apprehended at the border without a parent or guardian, they are released to shelters contracted by the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). ORR is responsible for ensuring children in these facilities are treated in accordance with the Flores Agreement of 1997, a court case that seeks to ensure humane and proper treatment of children apprehended at the border.
Case workers in these shelters work to have children released to family already in the United States. If there is no family member in the United States or if the family member is ineligible to receive the child, the UAC will remain in the system until they turn 18. On their 18th birthday, ICE agents arrive at the shelter in the early morning hours, place the immigrant in shackles, and remove them to an adult detention facility. From there, their future is bleak and many face deportation.
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