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Politics

LULAC Wants Immigrant Teens To Get Special Visa And Be Placed In Foster Homes

Detained immigrant children line up in the cafeteria at the Karnes County Residential Center, in Karnes City, Texas, a temporary home for immigrant women and children detained at the border.
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Detained immigrant children line up in the cafeteria at the Karnes County Residential Center, in Karnes City, Texas, a temporary home for immigrant women and children detained at the border.

LULAC’s request comes after Gov. Greg Abbott said migrant children are being brought to the U.S. by human traffickers or being used as drug mules.

The League of United Latin American Citizens, or LULAC, is calling on Gov. Greg Abbott to allow the Texas Rangers to apply for a special visa on behalf of unaccompanied children coming to the U.S.

Fernando Dubove, a Dallas immigration attorney, says the Texas Rangers could apply for what is known as an S visa. This is a special type of visa that could be granted to an unauthorized immigrant who cooperates with law enforcement in a criminal investigation.

“Once you have that application filed and then you get a hearing date with an immigration judge, the fact that you have that application filed usually lets the immigration judge basically stay the case, or leave it pending or continue the case until that visa is adjudicated,” Dubove said. “So just filing the application helps the kids down the road when they go before an immigration judge.”

LULAC’s request comes after Abbott said migrant children are being brought to the U.S. by human traffickers or being used as drug mules.

Dubove joined LULAC members on Wednesday across from the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center, which is housing about 2,000 immigrant teen boys. The federal government is leasing part of the convention center from the City of Dallas and will temporarily house up to 2,300 teens.

LULAC is also urging Abbott to direct the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services to work with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to place migrant children in temporary foster homes until they can be connected with a family member or sponsor in the U.S.

It also wants HHS to grant temporary legal status to the children and connect them with a relative within three days.

LULAC President Domingo Garcia said his biggest frustration with this issue is what he describes as a lack of transparency and lack of access inside the immigration facilities.

He’s urging the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to allow community organizations and members of the media inside immigration detention centers and temporary facilities so they can see what conditions they’re in.

Garcia was also critical of the unification process in which migrant children are released to a relative or sponsor living in the U.S.

“We’re still not getting how many children were unified with their parents this week,” Garcia said. “We just know how many are there. Those numbers don’t really tell us the real story of do we have a positive solution to this humanitarian crisis?”

Got a tip? Email Stella M. Chávez at schavez@kera.org. You can follow Stella on Twitter @stellamchavez.

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