SAN ANTONIO – The number of unaccompanied migrant children being housed at the Freeman Expo Center has increased from 500 to 1,370, federal and county officials said Tuesday.
Initially, 500 males ages 13-17 were bused on March 29 from El Paso to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Emergency Intake Site in San Antonio.
As of Monday, 1,370 children were being cared for at the EIS, where they are eventually released to a sponsor or transferred to an appropriate HHS Office of Refugee Resettlement shelter for longer-term care.
The Expo Center has an internal potential capacity of 2,100 beds and an external capacity of 300 medical beds.
Upon arrival, the children receive medical screenings and any follow-up care needed for injuries or illnesses they had when they arrived, officials said.
The children are tested for COVID-19 every three days and a COVID-19 health screening protocol is being implemented to follow U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for preventing and controlling communicable diseases. CDC is onsite monitoring and providing guidance on the protocols.
If a child tests positive after arrival, they are removed from the remaining population and cohorted at the facility, officials said.
Children who have health conditions that cannot be treated on-site are taken to local hospitals. Children with complex medical cases are not placed at the Freeman Expo Center.
Many people in San Antonio have been asking how they can help the children. Volunteers are needed around the clock to help with various tasks at the shelter. You can also click here to find out other ways of providing assistance.
Congressman Henry Cuellar was in Windcrest Wednesday morning and addressed the ongoing situation. Specifically, the challenges intake centers are faced with.
“Too many people coming in. Not enough people going out,” he said.
Concerns have mounted as more children continue to cross over.
This week a 10-year-old boy was found wondering a rural area near the U.S/Mexico boarder.
A boarder patrol agent recorded the meeting. In the video the boy is seen approaching the agent asking for help.
The boy told the agent he was traveling with a migrant group and he was left behind.
He was later taken to a children’s detention center in Donna, where thousands of children are being cared for.
Cuellar added the problems are far from over.
“Right now we are facing a humanitarian crisis and I do use the word crisis.”
Congressmen Cuellar and Tony Gonzales were expected to hold a press conference and tour the Expo Center Wednesday morning. However, due to a scheduling conflict that has since been postponed.