Neighbor says he saw secret migrant refugee camp near Waco

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by BYRON HARRIS

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WFAA

Posted on June 13, 2014 at 7:50 PM

NEWS 8 EXCLUSIVE

BRUCEVILLE, Texas -- A normally quiet country road in Bruceville, south of Waco, bustled with bus traffic for weeks this spring as between 1,000 and 2,000 children were trucked in from the border.

The kids, officially known as unaccompanied alien children, were among thousands swamping the border - without their parents - from Honduras, Guatemala, and Mexico.

A division of the Department of Health and Human Services, the Administration for Children and Families, is one of the agencies trying to manage the influx, estimated at 47,000 this year. It will not disclose where the children have been kept, only that now they are at Lackland Air Force Base and at a facility in the Rio Grande Valley.

But Jay Stewart, whose property borders the Greene Family Camp in Bruceville, watched the dead-end street that leads to the camp choked with bus traffic, truck traffic, and law enforcement officers this spring.

"It was 24-7," Stewart said. "Off-duty police officers. Homeland Security, some of them armed. There were a lot of them out there."

He said there were two groups of about 1,000 each.

"The first group was younger kids. Eight to twelve [years old.] The second group was older kids between twelve and fifteen," Stewart said. "They came in buses an vans. They traveled in groups. They had an escort of two-to-three cars."

Greene Family Camp provides a summer experience for hundreds of Jewish children every year. It has swimming pools, tennis courts, and horseback riding. The camp would not speak to News 8.

Jay Stewart said the refugees didn't use those amenities, but they still didn't want to leave.

"They worked hard to get here, and they didn't want to go back where they came from," Stewart said.

He could see some playing soccer surrounded by guards. And others crying, either sad at being away from home, or at the thought of returning.

As for the neighbors of the camp, some say they didn't notice the traffic. Others did.

"We were concerned about our kids, because of the traffic. And for security. We normally don't lock things up around here, and we had to."

The groups left late last month. Now the camp is getting back to its normal role of being a place for kids to spend the summer. The first session begins on Sunday.

E-mail bharris@wfaa.com

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