Nearly 6,000 undocumented immigrants are currently in custody at the Rio Grande Valley Border Patrol Sector. Local 23’s Joanna Guzman was given a tour of the McAllen Processing Center where over 2,000 immigrants are waiting to be processed and released. However, cameras were not allowed inside due to privacy issue.
The processing center is overcrowded. Thousands of children are sleeping on the floor on top of each other. Many mothers and fathers, with worry on their faces, not knowing what their fate will be. Border Patrol agents say the capacity in this facility is 1,500 people. But as of now there are 2,400 immigrants waiting to be processed and released.
Border Patrol agents say there has been a 200 percent increase in family units, adding that 50 percent of them are fraudulent cases. Agents say children are initially coming to the U.S. with an adult, then sent back to Mexico. Later they return with a different adult claiming to be a family unit once again. Agents say it’s something that can be difficult to catch due to current policies which doesn’t allow CBP to obtain fingerprints of children under the age of 14.
An acting executive officer says funding for the facility is nearly $13 million. It’s money the facility has already spent for this fiscal year, adding they are requesting another $12.5 million to fund the facility. Over 500 officers from across Texas are working in this facility processing immigrants daily. Inside the facility there are also computer stations where immigrants get interviewed by a CBP officer in Laredo or El Paso through the computer alleviating some of the load from this facility.
Agents say by law they must release immigrants after 72 hours, but due to the massive influx, immigrants are being released within 50 to 60 hours. There are only 36 showers and about 40 porta potties in the facility for thousands of immigrants to share. As soon as they arrive at the facility they are examined by nurses, their clothes are washed, and are given Thermal blankets to prevent diseases from spreading; according to Border Patrol agents.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) also toured the facility this morning to discuss needs in the facility and may be expanding resources soon.