MCALLEN, Texas – The Department of Homeland Security’s Acting Secretary visiting the McAllen Respite Center this morning after a midnight shift tour with U.S. Border Patrol.
This comes just a week after Kristjen Nielsen’s resignation. Kevin McAleenan is the highest government official to ever visit the center. Respite Center Director Sister Norma Pimentel says McAleenan seems genuinely interested in finding solutions.
The Acting Secretary of Homeland Security took a first hand look at the McAllen Respite Center, where more than 400 immigrants waited for food and clothing. Sister Pimentel says McAleenan offered to help with anything the center needed to care for families.
“Yes it’s obvious that there’s a lot of families being released and it’s not a surprise to him, he knows what’s happening. He definitely says that he wants to make sure he works with us to follow up with a response to make sure something is done about what’s happening today.”
The tour lasted about an hour. Among many conversations, Pimentel says both spoke about tent city. Which would be used as an alternative detention camp.
“He said that was going to be a temporary response to deal with the over capacity to deal with the fact that they have so many people apprehended. I didn’t foresee that as it being more than just a temporary thing.”
Pimentel wasn’t the only one who thought McAleenan was 100 percent cooperative and willing to help. Mcaleenan interacted with multiple families in the center who say they are thankful for his visit to witness what they go through.
“He is really polite, he treated us really well and thankfully he is here to see the situation we go through her in this center. This center helps out a lot, they give us food and clothing.” Lorena Martinez migrated from Honduras after she couldn’t afford to pay for her daughter’s medicial treatment. She’s hopeful government officials will provide help to the center after this visit.
McAleenan met with CBP and ICE as well as local stakeholders throughout the day discussing DHS efforts to ensure humanitarian obligations are fulfilled to families and children.