Central American unaccompanied children are starting classes at a Tucson shelter.
“Last week we went to the shelter and they told us that they’re going to begin the classes in the shelter and bring teachers to the children,” said Jimena Diaz, the consul for Guatemala in Arizona.
She said the kids do not leave the shelter to attend public schools.
The shelter is run by Southwest Key, a federal contractor that operates other shelters for Central American youth across the country including Phoenix. Southwest Key officials could not be reached for comment.
The children are among almost 60,000 minors who were apprehended crossing into the United States illegally without parents or adult relatives this year.
It is unknown how many children have stayed at the shelter, which has a capacity of more than 250.
The consul for El Salvador in Arizona said there were 43 children from El Salvador in the shelter this week and 47 others had recently been reunited with family.
There are 73 Guatemalan children at the Tucson shelter, Diaz said.
Tucson’s shelter opened in early July as a response to the influx of unaccompanied children from Central America overwhelming the immigration system.
The children at the Tucson shelter are under the care of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement. The kids will be at the shelter until they are reunited with family or sponsors in the U.S.
“All services, including education services, are provided by contractors at our unaccompanied alien children program shelters where the average length of stay is less than 30 days,” HHS officials said in an email.
Once the children leave the shelter, Diaz said, Southwest Key officials will give them a certificate that details what type of studies they had during their stay at the shelter.
The Arizona Department of Education is not involved in the teaching efforts at the shelter, officials with ADE said.