Flight transfer of immigrant kids from Texas to California canceled

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Nearly 300 immigrant children were in limbo Monday after flights to bring them from Texas to California were unexpectedly canceled. (KABC)

Nearly 300 immigrant children were in limbo Monday after flights to bring them from Texas to California were unexpectedly canceled.

Those children are among the tens of thousands who have fled to the United States without parents in recent months. They were expected to be flown to El Centro and San Diego Monday for processing. That did not happen.

It was unclear why the California-bound flights were canceled. Monday afternoon, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency did not say when those flights would be rescheduled.

New numbers released Monday revealed that last month alone, more than 9,000 Central American children crossed the southern U.S. border without a parent -- that's 47,000 so far this year. And according to the Department of Homeland Security, it will be a record.

Monday morning, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson wrote an open letter to the parents and offered one simple message: "Sending your child to travel illegally into the United States is not the solution."

In his warning, he said, when kids are sent alone, the smugglers have no regard and in some cases the youth are beaten, starved, even sexually assaulted or sold into the sex trade.

"These children are fleeing for their lives from Central America," said Reshma Shamasunder, executive director of the California Immigrant Policy Center.

She calls the detention centers and the response from the Obama Administration unacceptable.

Shamasunder believes the U.S. should uphold its ideals to provide compassionate relief.

"These are refugees. As a country that protects refugees, that protects human beings and children from violence, because that's really what we're seeing here," said Shamasunder.

Most of the children are coming from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. Homeland Security says the traveling conditions will become much worse as it gets hotter in July and August.

While immigration reform legislation plays out before lawmakers in Washington, Secretary Johnson makes clear "there is no path to deferred action or citizenship, or one being contemplated by Congress, for a child who crosses our border illegally today."

The government has been actively looking for additional detention space, primarily for mothers with young children. Immigration and Customs Enforcement only has one center for family situations like that, located in Pennsylvania.

But the planning commission in Escondido in San Diego County will address the issue Tuesday night. The city may approve a 96-bed facility for these children.

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immigrationchildren's healthu.s. & worldCaliforniaTexas
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