NPR for North Texas
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
ALERT: KERA News 90.1 is performing essential tower maintenance which may disrupt our over-the-air signal between July 12-14. Click here for the KERA News stream, or listen on our app or smart speakers with no disruption. Thanks for your patience!

New Facilities For Migrant Children Slated For Texas

Casa Sunzal, a shelter in Houston run by Southwest Key, houses more than 200 unaccompanied teens.
Courtesy of Southwest Key
Casa Sunzal, a shelter in Houston run by Southwest Key, houses more than 200 unaccompanied teens.

Texas Health and Human Services has confirmed that applications have come in for two new shelters that would hold migrant youth who arrive at the U.S.-Mexico border without a guardian.  

The unaccompanied minor facilities are slated for the Rio Grande Valley, in McAllen and Los Fresnos. 

Lutheran Social Services of the South, Foster Texas and CHSI would operate the new facilities. 

The Los Fresnos shelter would hold children as young as infants and as old as 17,  according to documents obtained by the Center for Investigative Reporting

Another application, for a child placing agency, which would supervise the placement of migrant foster children, is also pending approval. That agency, operated by Foster Texas, would be in Cedar Park, north of Austin.

Confirmation of the potential shelters comes as Austin-based nonprofit Southwest Key closes down two Texas facilities, one in Conroe and another in Harlingen. The federal government ended those contracts due to an  unexpected loss of federal funding.”

None of the new facilities would be run by Southwest Key. 

Children have now been removed from the Conroe facility, according to an August census of all unaccompanied minor facilities in Texas. 

Kids had been removed from the Harlingen shelter by mid-July. 

The nonprofit Southwest Key operates more than a third of unaccompanied minor facilities statewide through multimillion-dollar federal contracts. 

The organization has been under fire for more than a year, especially after they were  slated to open a shelter for children under 12 in Houston during the height of the Trump administration’s family separation policy. 

That shelter, on Emancipation Avenue, is now licensed to hold 16- and 17-year-olds. 

In July, NPR reported that the federal government is  requesting bids on large migrant shelters in Houston, Dallas/Fort Worth, San Antonio, Atlanta and Phoenix. The total capacity of these shelters is 2,500. 

The new Houston shelter will hold 500 migrant children, according to government documents, and will be built in northwest Houston.

Some 4,300 children are currently being held in unaccompanied minor facilities statewide. 

From Houston Public Media

Correction: A previous version of this post said there would be three new shelters. It has been updated to reflect that one of the three applications is for a new child placement agency, which wouldn't directly care for migrant children.

Copyright 2020 KUT 90.5. To see more, visit .

Elizabeth Trovall, Houston Public Media