Local immigration group assists unaccompanied minors at Holloman

Holloman Air Force Base

The Diocesan Migrant and Refugee Services will help provide legal advice to the unaccompanied minors at Holloman Air Force Base.

The unaccompanied minors were brought to stay at the base on Sunday. The Department of Health and Humans Services told CBS4 they will stay on average for 32 days, and then most will be placed with family.

"Many of these children have never encountered the legal system in their own countries let alone the legal system in the US," said Melissa Lopez the executive director of DMRS. "We're trying to guide them and give them some basic information so that we can help put them in a better position once they get released."

Thursday Lopez and other staff members will travel to Holloman for the first time. They will give the children a presentation on their legal rights then individual legal screenings.

Lopez said the kids will be told about their basic rights to food and shelter and about the legal process they will have to follow in order to stay in the country.

When the minors leave Holloman, they will be sent to live with family all over the country. Lopez said it is their responsibility to find legal representation and show up to court.

The organization is currently hiring 10 employees who will work as caseworkers at the base.

"The volume can get significant so we are prepared to try to recoup volunteers so we need additional people to help provide those services," she said.

HHS would not tell CBS4 how many kids are at Holloman, a spokesman said the number fluctuates and said there is anywhere between one and 250 kids. The base could house up to 700 children.

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