MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. (WDVM) — The number of unaccompanied children arriving at and crossing over the United States’ southern border is at a 20-year high, and local leaders and officials are planning for some of them to resettle in Montgomery County over the next several months.
The county has already taken in over 100 unaccompanied minors from the southern border in 2021. Leaders are planning for hundreds more to resettle this year.
Many of the children are fleeing violence, extreme climate conditions, and gang recruitment in their home countries, according to officials from the county’s Department of Health and Human Services. Local leaders say Montgomery County is one of the top 10 destinations for these children when they resettle in the U.S. because many of them have family members who already live in the county.
Councilmember Craig Rice says the county is approaching the border crisis with compassion.
“Families are making a really tough decision about whether or not to send their children on precarious journies to the United States, to escape death, what is almost certain death, in many cases,” said Rice. “Think about what you would do for your child or your family member.”
The Office of Refugee Resettlement reports the majority of unaccompanied minors coming to the southern border are coming from four countries: Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and El Salvador.
Of the unaccompanied children arriving at the border, officials say 72 percent of them are older than 14 and about 68 percent of them are boys.