A growing number of children aged 12 to 17 have crossed the southern border on their own from various Central American countries since 2014, with an unprecedented number recorded last year.

According to the United States Customs and Border Protection, there is a 37% increase in the number of unaccompanied children--12,011 in total--who crossed the border in February 2022 compared to records a month before, which was only 8,760. This translates to a daily average of 520 unaccompanied children crossing the US-Mexico border for February.

Last year, 122,000 unaccompanied migrant children were received in United States shelters as per CBS News. This number has broken records for 2016 and 2019, which were at 59,000 and 69,000, respectively. Of the said number, 92,000 unaccompanied minors were transferred to the Department of Health and Human Services last year.

Voice of America reported that the United States government has created emergency intake shelters in various locations in Texas to address the surge in minors crossing from Mexico. One of the shelters is at Fort Bliss, which was established during former President Barack Obama's Administration and maintained by the administration of President Joe Biden.

"Under the past three U.S. administrations, especially when the number of minors crossing the border surges suddenly and emergency intake shelters like that at Fort Bliss are hastily arranged, controversies have erupted over the conditions and duration of the youths' stay at these facilities, where media access is tightly restricted," the media outlet said.

"While awaiting their release, many teens struggle with regrets and low self-esteem, faith leaders told The AP. They're battered not only by the trauma they fled, but by the guilt they feel for fleeing, sometimes without saying goodbye to beloved relatives who raised them--and for having ended up in a place far different from their dreams, with no clear path ahead," they stressed.

Accordingly, prayer and spiritual practices help soothe the guilt these minors possess. This was confirmed by Rev. Brian Strassburger to the Voice of America who is one of those who minister to the minor migrants staying in Brownsville. Strassburger stressed that they assure the youths that God is with them and their parents still love them. This, he said, gives them comfort.

The same thing is said by Rev. Jose de la Cruz Longoria who pastors several Catholic parishes in Pecos Texas. Longoria ministers to the 200 teens in the Pecos shelter. Longoria revealed that he holds Mass frequently in the shelter because the teens' "only strength is prayer." Through the Mass, the youths are shown that God loves them and forgives them.

An assistant in the Pecos shelter, Dominga Villegas, explained that the teens often pray for family members to accept and love them for leaving their homes. They also pray for friends who were lost on the way.

One of the youths, a certain Elena from El Paso, Texas, shared that when the local bishop would celebrate Mass, she would always feel at peace. Elena, a migrant from Guatemala, disclosed that hearing Mass and receiving Holy Communion sustained her for two months before she was finally released from the shelter.

"When he arrived, you could feel like a peace, something that comforts you, something that you need. God was with us to endure so many days without family," she told the Associated Press.