Plans call for another immigrant holding facility

Immigration Crisis

POSTED: Monday, July 14, 2014 - 4:41pm

UPDATED: Wednesday, July 16, 2014 - 11:33am

We've told you about plans to open an immigrant holding facility in McAllen within the month.  There are now separate plans to open another facility in Weslaco. 

An organization affiliated with Health and Human Services will run the proposed holding center. It will only hold children and the plan is for the organization to buy the Palm Aire Hotel in Weslaco. 

The organization - called BCFS - runs a similar facility in Harlingen. The new location will more than double the number of beds available, to 600.  The plan is to also nearly double the number of staff to run the operation. 

"I know they're talking about a $50 million impact to the economy here in Weslaco," Hidalgo County Commissioner AC Cuellar said. "That's a lot of money for Weslaco.  I think it would be a huge impact for us here...You know, I support it, and I think it's a great deal because of the employment."  

BCFS hopes to get the permits for the holding facility before purchasing the property. It hopes to have it open by October 1, although a spokesperson said that could be optimistic. 


 The full release: 

HARLINGEN – BCFS Health and Human Services intends to establish a centralized intake facility in Weslaco that will provide short-term shelter and expedited reunification of unaccompanied minor children with their families in the U.S. The organization requested a conditional license from the City of Weslaco yesterday to establish the program in the former Palm Aire Hotel.

“This facility is part of the solution for alleviating overcrowded conditions seen in Border Patrol facilities as a result of the increase in migration from Central America,” said Asennet Segura, LCCA, LMSW, BCFS’ Executive Vice President of Residential Operations. “This facility will be largely self-contained and provide a safe setting for the community to respond to this influx, as well as the children who are separated from their families.”

The centralized intake facility will be the first of its kind in the nation, allowing for quick transfer of children from Border Patrol custody and expedited release to their families. The average length of stay at the facility will be 15 days. During that time, children will be provided room and board, in addition to basic education, recreational activities, medical and mental health care, case management, and religious services, if they chose to participate. The children will not attend public school.

The Weslaco site is part of the relocation and expansion of the organization’s Harlingen program, which has been in operation since 2007.  The 600-bed facility expects to be open by October 1 and will result in an annual economic impact of $50 million. The site will employ 650 staff in positions ranging from senior management, to clinical, case management, and direct service staff (totaling more than $16 million in salaries and benefits annually). Ten million dollars is estimated to be filtered into the local economy for operating services such as electricity, rent, contract labor, gasoline, telephone, office supplies, cleaning supplies, advertising, rentals, groceries, and miscellaneous local vendors. Two million dollars in immediate property improvements will be invested within the first 90 days.

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