National News

These are the distant states where migrant children are being sent

Posted June 21, 2018 2:49 a.m. EDT
Updated June 21, 2018 10:03 a.m. EDT

— Hundreds of migrant children forcibly separated from their parents were transferred thousands of miles away from the border and some already have been placed in foster care, officials said.

After crossing the southern border, some children were taken to facilities along the southern border, including a new temporary shelter in Tornillo, Texas, while others were sent to facilities as far away as New York City.

President Donald Trump has reversed a policy that resulted in the separation of 2,300 children from their parents, but it's unclear whether those children will be reunited with their parents.

In the past, more than 100 shelters in nearly 20 states have housed unaccompanied children. Some of those facilities already are helping children who were separated from their families.

Federal authorities have been tight-lipped about where exactly all the children are held, but here are a few states where they have been sent.


The Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children in Florida is a former Job Corps site that has been used as a shelter for unaccompanied minors since 2014. Photos taken this week showed boys and girls at the shelter.

On Tuesday, Florida Gov. Rick Scott sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar expressing concern over "unconfirmed reports" that the shelter is "potentially holding children who have been forcibly removed from their families."

In his letter, Scott demanded confirmation of reports that children separated from their families were being sent to the Homestead shelter. He also requested information about health screening protocols at the border and what, if any, health and education resources were being provided to children placed in Florida.


Children as young as 3 months old have been transferred to facilities in Michigan, according to the state's department of civil rights.

"We have received reports and are very concerned that the children arriving here are much younger than those who have been transported here in the past," said Agustin V. Arbulu, executive director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights.

At least 81 children have arrived in Grand Rapids, Michigan, since April, CNN affiliate WXMI reported.

Dona Abbott, director of refugee and foster care programs with Bethany Christian Services, said the children are in temporary foster care homes and group placements across the state.

Arbulu said the issue of separating families is a federal issue but his department is monitoring the situations because it "has a duty to make sure their civil rights are protected."

"While we commend the work of resettlement agencies in Michigan attempting to serve these children with dignity and compassion, nothing can replace the love, sense of security and care of a parent," Arbulu said.

New York

A total of 350 migrant children, including a 9-month-old, have been taken to New York City since the practice of separating families began, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

At least 239 children are in the care of the Cayuga Centers in Harlem, which runs day programs for them. Some of the children are in foster care and some could be with relatives.

De Blasio said some of the children have bed bugs, lice, chicken pox and other contagious diseases. Some are too young to communicate and need significant mental health services.

"And this is just one of the centers in New York City," De Blasio said.

It's unclear how many separated children are in the city.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said his office is aware of more than 70 immigrant children in federal shelters in New York. Cuomo plans to sue "to protect the health and well-being of children" held in New York and elsewhere, he said in a statement.

South Carolina

Five migrant children have arrived in South Carolina since last month.

The children are ages 7 to 11 years old and most of them will be placed in foster care in the Columbia area, CNN affiliate WCIV reported.

"They don't understand what's happening, or why they have been separated from their parents," said Rebecca Gibson, a program coordinator for transitional foster care with Lutheran Services Carolinas. "The children don't know if they will be safe. They don't know where their parents are and no one has given them any information."

Gibson said only one child has been released to a sponsor in the US.

"We don't know the circumstances of how the separation happened, or if the children were able to say goodbye," Gibson said.


Most infants and children are being held at several new and old facilities in several cities, including McAllen, Tornillo and Brownsville after they cross into the US.

Some children under 13 are staying at newly built facilities such as a former private home about 20 miles from the US-Mexico border in Texas town of Combes, operated by Southwest Key Programs.

Democratic Texas Rep. Filemon Vela Jr. said he toured a new shelter in Brownsville where about 40 children under the age of 10 are staying.

One room held four infants, two of whom were accompanied by their teenaged mothers, he said. The children receive constant attention, Vela said. "People are doing what they can under the circumstances."


One facility for the children is in Bristow, Virginia, about 30 miles from the nation's capital. Youth for Tomorrow, a non-profit founded by former Washington Redskins Coach Joe Gibbs, has been partially used as a shelter for unaccompanied minors for several years.

Photos released this week by Health and Human Services showed girls wearing uniforms sitting in an auditorium, a set of baby high chairs, a room with cribs and a woman carrying a baby.