Immigrant children’s facility could open in downtown Houston

HOUSTON - At 419 Emancipation Avenue in east Downtown, work is underway to make a former homeless shelter into an immigrant children detention facility. It'd be one of the many proposed sites that could become future homes to those currently held along the border. The building recently housed victims of Hurricane Harvey, and before that it was a Star of Hope Mission shelter.

"Now to see that it may be repurposed for housing, jailing and detaining little ones, from 18 months to 12 years, I mean we're just heartbroken," state Rep. Sylvia Garcia said. "There is no law that requires the separation of children from their parents. Children are not bargaining chips. Children should not be held hostage"

A non-profit called Southwest Key Programs is set to operate the facility for as many as 240 children.

"The reason this facility is being opened is because other facilities who serve this same purpose are at capacity," said Cesar Espinosa, the executive director of immigrant advocacy group FIEL. "What that tells us is more children are being detained, more children are being separated from their parents."

Currently, there's no opening date for the facility.