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City of Donna residents mull benefits, drawbacks of temporary immigrant holding facility

Local News
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Due to an increase in illegal crossings on the border in the valley, U.S. Customs and Border Protection plans to build a temporary holding facility for children and families near the Donna-Rio Bravo International Bridge.

Due to an increase in illegal crossings on the border in the valley, U.S. Customs and Border Protection plans to build a temporary holding facility for children and families near the Donna-Rio Bravo International Bridge.

Work crews have been working all week on the soon-to-be temporary holding site for up to 500 people.

“It would be families and children. They would be there no more than 3 days and then they would process them then to a more permanent facility or I don’t know if deportation,” said Donna Mayor Irene Muñoz.

“Many people think that the immigrants who are going to be housed there are the immigrants crossing in Donna, but that’s not the case. These are immigrants that are caught west of Donna, west of McAllen for the most part,” said City Manager Ernesto Silva. 

People awaiting transfer to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for processing, detention, or removal from the U.S. will be offered temporary housing, beds, toilets, and bathing facilities.

“If the facility is needed, it’s needed. They’re humans too, they’re people. If they need the space, if they’re overcrowded, being human, it’s understandable,” said resident Amanda Arevalo. 

Arevalo has lived in a neighborhood just 3 miles away from the Donna-Rio Bravo International Bridge for 5 years. Arevalo says she’s seen many immigrants hiding on her property. She thinks the temporary facility will only offer more security to her area.

“For our safety too, if they need to be housed there, it’s a good thing, it’s a bad thing, it’s both,” Arevalo said.

“We don’t have a say in any of this. It shouldn’t affect us I don’t think. It shouldn’t be a problem. It would be very secured and protected and we’re assured of that,” Muñoz said.

Silva says the city currently has no plans on contributing to CBP’s humanitarian effort. However, concerns about a delay in the city’s second phase of the Donna-Rio Bravo International Bridge development have now surfaced.

“We’re aware that they’re inside an area that’s going to be developed in the future. They’re aware of it. They’ve sent us their assurances in writing both through GSA. We’ve been partners with them for a long time. We also understand that the federal government wants to do something within their boundaries, but they have that right. We really don’t have any choice,” Silva said.

The second phase for the bridge development is expected to begin in six months. CBP’s current temporary facility is expected to be removed within that same time frame. 

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