A temporary holding facility for immigrants is almost complete. Customs and Border Protection gave a brief tour of the site near the Donna International Bridge. It will allow them to keep up with the continuing surge of immigrants crossing into south Texas.
In 2014 Customs and Border Protection faced a migrant surge that some called a humanitarian crisis.
CBP Commissioner Gil Kerlikowske said, “We did not have, really, adequate facilities. We didn’t have provisions for health care. We didn’t even really have provisions for providing food.”
This year, the immigrant influx is at an all-time high. There’s no telling when the numbers will start to decline.
Commissioner Kerlikowske added, “Currently, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is detaining about 41,000 people. That’s about 6,000 more than they normally detain.”
Because of this surge, CBP officials say this new facility is a proactive way to alleviate immigration overcrowding.
Reynaldo Diaz, Patrol Agent in Charge says, “If you step back and look at it, it is both a preventative measure, and a current need.”
Now this temporary facility has the capacity to hold up to 125 people at a time. These people will be here for up to 72 hours, where they can eat, sleep, and receive medical services as necessary.
Donna Sifford, CBP Port Director – El Paso said, “They’ll be given laundry bags, so the clothes they have on will be taken to a laundry here in the facility, and then they’ll be given clean clothes here. And once they depart the facility, they’ll leave with nice clean clothes, and then they’ll leave those clothes.”
Currently, the facility has four pods that can hold a total of 500 people at once. But there’s enough room to expand and hold as many as 1,000. When complete, the facility will be equipped with sleeping cots, televisions and an outdoors playground to keep children entertained.
The holding facility is scheduled to open its doors in just two days. CBP officials say they spent a total of $3.8 million to build the facility and hire several contractors.