A new business opportunity is headed to the City of Eagle Lake in the form of a temporary housing facility for unaccompanied migrant children. At the Jan. 12 Eagle Lake City Council meeting, representatives from Endeavors spoke about the project.
With almost 80 jobs, an estimated $7.9 million annual investment in salaries and operational costs and an estimated $1 million in building renovations, “the City welcomes Endeavors to the Eagle Lake community,” City Manager Melissa Landin said.
The all-inclusive, migrant youth facility will provide temporary housing, healthcare, youth counseling and mentorship, holistic support services, education and more.
The company has acquired the former Heritage House Nursing Home building near Heritage Lane, and renovations are expected to start in the near future.
Renovations are expected to take approximately three-six months to complete, operations are expected to begin in the fall, and they are accepting job applications for some positions now.
“This is expected to have a significant economic impact and will likely be a catalyst for other economic growth opportunities in our small, rural community,” Landin and Mayor Mary Parr said. Letters of support for the Endeavors project were received from Parr and U.S. Representative Michael McCaul . Endeavors is a nationally recognized not-for-profit organization based in Texas with over 50 years of experience serving vulnerable populations.
Who are migrant children?
The United States government defines a migrant child (also known as unaccompanied alien children) as a child with no parent or legal guardian in the U.S. or no parent or legal guardian in the U.S. who is able to prove care and physical custody.
These are typically children fleeing their countries of origin, with the majority of them coming from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Mexico. According to Endeavors, these children are often “leaving behind gang-violence and murder, rape and human trafficking, starvation and sub-par living conditions, in hopes of a better life in the United States. Needing to travel over 2,000 miles, families often turn to “coyotes” (smugglers) to ensure a better chance of their children surviving the journey. If successful in their travels, the children are ap prehended at the border and placed into shelters while being processed in the courts – the best outcome is reunification with family members, here in the United States. The vast majority of sponsors are a parent or a close family relative living in the United States.”
Endeavors representatives said the children in the Eagle Lake facility will not be in need of a permanent plan for their care or adoption, stating “ these are migrant children who will be held in the shelter until they are reunited with family or relatives in the United States.”
Children in the care of Endeavors do get to have communication with family members, including parents still in their native countries.
These children have pending lawful immigration status in the United States, predominantly boys between the ages of 13-17 and these children are awaiting sponsorship processing through U.S. Immigration Courts. However, this process can take months or years to get a final outcome.
On average, the children remain at facilities like Endeavors for about 50 days until they are reunited with a “vetted family member sponsor.” Endeavors says that over 90 percent of the children in their care are placed with a family member or relative within the United States.
This in accordance with the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 which directs that each child must “be promptly placed in the least restrictive setting that is in the best interest of the child,” while awaiting formal immigration processing.
This program is different from the DACA (Dreamers) program. “The DACA program is for children who were already here in the United States brought to the country with their parents years ago. These are recently arrived unaccompanied migrant children who are not affiliated with the DACA program,” Endeavors reps explained.
For more information on Endeavors and the services they provide, visit endeavors.org.