HOUSTON -- The first bus carrying unaccompanied migrant girls arrived at a Houston shelter Friday evening, amid a surge of children entering the country and growing concern for their well-being.
Federal authorities, community and faith leaders worked together for a few days to prepare the shelter that will house the children, all girls, at a facility being run by the National Association of Christian Churches.
The facility will have 500 beds. Authorities are asking local media not to identify the exact location of the shelter to protect the children's safety.
On Friday afternoon, Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia toured the facility. She says it will have beds, medical facilities, and equipment to properly house and process the children.
"I had a good visit with the pastor and I assured him if there was anything he needed from my office, or any message that need to get to the White House, count on me," Garcia said.
Federal authorities kept media far away from the process, but it was clear the bus transported a number of children.
Jimenez said she is prepared to volunteer and help the children with the immigration process.
"They really pull on your heartstrings," she said. "They are alone. Most don't come with any parents. They are very brave. They're fleeing from terrible conditions in their country."
On Thursday night, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee toured the facility. She traveled to El Paso last month.
"I spoke to a child who had been in the desert for 12 days. Every child that I spoke to, these were girls, and they were under 14, had crossed the Rio Grande at night," the congresswoman recalled. "Every one of them had that frightening experience."
There are 10 migrant housing facilities in total; nine are in Texas and one is in San Diego.
The largest holding center is at Fort Bliss near El Paso, with 5,000 beds. The one in Houston is on the smaller side with 500 beds.