14,300 Migrant children are spending Christmas in U.S. custody

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According to a report by APNews.com, 14,300 migrant children spent Christmas in U.S. detention centers and residential facilities. 

As we celebrate the holidays and the year draws close, about 5,400 detained migrant children in the U.S. are sleeping in shelters with more than a thousand other children.

Some 9,800 are in facilities with more than 100 kids.

This is all according to confidential government data obtained and cross-checked by the Associated Press.

Last month, 9 On Your Side talked to local attorney Leah Arnold.

Arnold had just returned from spending a week volunteering at the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas.

It’s the largest immigrant detention center in the United States.

“It was so very striking to walk into a jail facility with all that security and see little children running around,” said Arnold.

There is now a petition on thepetitionsite.com calling for continuous media attention to the number of days refugee children have been away from their families.

According to the petition, it cites “sources suggest in the past year, 2,667 children were separated from their refugee parents for an average of 83 days each. Of those, 140 have yet to be reunited, and 30 will not be returned to their parents.”

Among the groups calling for action is Harvard psychologist Dr. Paula J. Caplan.

Caplan, who just debuted her documentary on late Kinston legend Isaac Pope explained her stance.

“I remember back when President Carter was in office during the Iran hostage crisis,” said Dr. Caplan. “Walter Cronkite at the end of his broadcast would say this is day 223 of the Iranian hostage crisis.”

Caplan says it brought increased public awareness.

In bringing awareness, it’s important to note while migrants are seeking asylum citing escalating violence in their home countries, there is a legal process that has to be followed.

President Donald Trump has been very vocal about increasing border security.

It’s led to a partial government shutdown.

Christmas day marks the shutdown’s fourth day with no end in sight.

“I can’t tell you when the government is going to be open,” said President Trump. “I can tell you it’s not going to be open until we have a wall, a fence, whatever they would like to call it. I’ll call it whatever they want, but it’s all the same thing. It’s a barrier from keeping people from pouring into our country.”

Both sides in the fight over President Trump’s $5 billion border wall have given a little on the money.

What they can’t seem yet to agree on is what the money should be spent on.

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