Immigration Attorney Says Dallas Convention Center Housing Hundreds Of Migrant Teen Boys Is 'Well-Run'

More buses carrying undocumented teenage boys are expected to arrive at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in downtown Dallas.

Video Transcript

- Thank you. More undocumented teenage boys will continue to arrive at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas as they're processed and released to sponsors while they wait for a court date. Our Ken Molestina spoke to an immigration attorney that was able to go inside, and explains how this operation is working. Ken?

KEN MOLESTINA: Brooke, as of this weekend, we're told about 1,000 teenage boys were transferred into what's being called a decompression center over at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center. The immigration attorney I spoke with says several more are expected in the coming days.

By the busloads, undocumented teenage boys ranging in age from 13 to 17 are being brought here to the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center. Michelle Saenz-Rodriguez is a Dallas-based immigration attorney, who spent her Sunday volunteering with the teens.

MICHELLE SAENZ-RODRIGUEZ: The number one question that I got from the boys was, what is going to happen to me? You know, what is this process?

KEN MOLESTINA: The teens are staying here while they're processed and hopefully reunited with a relative sponsor living in the US. Those relatives need to be vetted before the teens are released to them, and they must promise to appear at in immigration court whenever their date before a judge is granted. The timetable for all of that is unspecific.

MICHELLE SAENZ-RODRIGUEZ: The boys are all in pods, and they have their groups, and they move about in groups. They have a dining area. They have an area where they can try and contact a relative, whether that be in the United States or internationally, depending on where they've come from.

KEN MOLESTINA: Saenz-Rodriguez says the majority of the teens come from Central America. Countries like El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala, where violence has forced their families to send them to the US.

MICHELLE SAENZ-RODRIGUEZ: Every single one of them told me that the risk of coming was way better than staying in a place where they knew they were either going to get involved in violence, gangs, or their family had been persecuted, and they had been sent out in order to save their lives.

KEN MOLESTINA: She says programs to have them apply for legal entry in the US outside of our country have been dismantled. So the teens have no other choice than to physically cross the border and seek asylum once here.

MICHELLE SAENZ-RODRIGUEZ: And out of desperation, we are seeing this jump in numbers.

KEN MOLESTINA: Well Saenz-Rodriguez says the majority of the teens are not planning to stay here in DFW once allowed to reunite with their relatives. They plan on going elsewhere-- other major cities across the US, we're told. As far as court dates to see an immigration judge, we are told all of that has been delayed because of COVID-19. Another reason why there is a backlog, Brooke, in the cases, and this surge of capacity that we're seeing.

- Good information, Ken. Thank you so much.