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Texas Lawmakers Get Update on Health and Welfare of Children from Central America

Veronica Zaragovia/KUT
At a Texas House Child Protection Committee hearing on Sept. 10, 2014, officials gave updates on the health of unaccompanied children from Central America living in Texas.

Texas lawmakers got an update yesterday on children who’ve crossed the southern border illegally over the last several months.

Officials expressed concern about the unaccompanied children's health and welfare at a hearing of a Texas House Child Protection Committee hearing.

The number of unaccompanied children crossing the border has been dropping over the summer. About 54,000 have crossed the border, and 4,000 of them have settled in Texas, so far.

The state has asked U.S. Homeland Security for names and addresses of all people at detention facilities in cases of infectious diseases.

"It is paramount, it is crucial that the CDC and local health officials are able to know," Texas Health and Human Services Commissioner Kyle Janek said. "We need to trace this back because this person, this kiddo, came from a shelter. Where else did other kids in that shelter go?"

He told lawmakers that Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador regularly immunize children against measles, mumps and rubella, as well as polio.

"Of the 4,000 UACs that have settled in Texas, we have not relaxed any standards for entrance into schools," said Dave Gruber, with the Department of State Health Services. "So our schools are safe as far as disease goes."

But Janek says Texas will need to be on alert for cases of chicken pox, the flu and tuberculosis at the federal detention facilities housing some of the children. 

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