Posted: Jul 14, 2014 6:38 PM
Updated: Jul 14, 2014 8:13 PM
WESLACO - A center for unaccompanied minors set to open in Weslaco later this year will be the first of its kind in the nation, officials with a network of non-profits said.
BCFS Health and Human Services secured a multi-million federal contract to house young illegal immigrants at the site of the current Palm Aire Hotel and Suites on FM 1015.
Representatives with BCFS said the Palm Aire will undergo a multi-million dollar transformation.
BCFS runs a temporary detention center for young illegal immigrants at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio.
BCFS began as an orphanage for Hispanic children in San Antonio in 1944
"Children ... who weren't able to go into other orphanages. They weren't allowed at the white orphanages, they weren't allowed at the African-American orphanages," said Krista Piferrer, with BCFS external affairs.
The agency has grown into a multi-national network of health and human service non-profit organizations.
"We lead efforts that range from emergency management and disaster response to serving teens and youths who are aging out of the foster care system to serving impoverished communities and expectant mothers in the colonias," Piferrer said.
BCFS said the Weslaco facility will be completely self-contained.
"Our central intake facility at Weslaco will be licensed by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services as a child residential center," Piferrer said.
Piferrer said medical staff will be on hand so children with diseases or injuries will not be transferred to local hospitals.
BCFS has a facility in Harlingen where they employ about 340 people.
The agency applied for a conditional-use permit with the city of Weslaco. City Manager Leo Olivares said the request has to go through the regular planning and zoning process. If approved, it will go to the city commission for a final vote.