First group of unaccompanied minors from Central America arrive in Homestead

About 50 children housed in tent city

By Glenna Milberg - Reporter, Amanda Batchelor - Senior Digital Editor

HOMESTEAD, Fla. - The first group of unaccompanied minors from Central America have arrived at a property in Homestead, where they are being sheltered after having escaped the danger and poverty in their homelands, Local 10 News learned on Tuesday.

Officials said the tent city will house children ranging in age from 13 to 17 years old. Most are from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.

The group of about 50 children who arrived this week are mostly boys.

Legally, the children who crossed the U.S. border without their families are called "unaccompanied alien children." There is room in Homestead for up to 800 of them.

Officials said they expect more in the coming days, and the children might be traumatized and possibly physically and/or sexually abused. They are escaping gang threats and violence borne of extreme poverty, as Local 10 News has documented.

The children will eat, play and sleep at the shelter, and schooling and medical care will also take place on-site. There will be people there to provide initial immigration screenings and identify family or sponsors.

The children will have no contact with the outside South Florida community.

Since 2014, the top three states receiving children have been California, Texas and Florida.

The tent city is federally funded by President Barack Obama's request for $400 million in contingency funds to accommodate unaccompanied minors, as well as by the $950 million that had already been allocated to deal with the issue.

Officials said the average time it takes for a child to go through the sponsorship process and move to a more permanent location is 34 days.

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