DONNA, Texas – A temporary tent holding facility for undocumented immigrants is now in place at the Donna Port of Entry.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection says this is due to overcrowding in detention centers and mass influx of families and unaccompanied children seeking asylum along our border. The facility will accommodate up to 500 people in CBP custody. Officials say existing processes will remain in place.
Carmen Qualia, Border Patrol RGV Sector Executive Officer, “Our release process will not change. As it is right now which is family units, some family units will be released to ERO (Enforcement and Removal Operations). Some will be released to the McAllen area, the Brownsville area, Harlingen and local community.”
Qualia adds with 1,200 daily apprehensions, the sector is experiencing a 240% increase in family units this year in comparison to 2018, stating the McAllen area is where most apprehensions are happening. She assures this facility will be the same as the Ursula Processing Center in McAllen with only one difference.
“So, we are not going to be putting chain fencing in this facility however we are going to be putting in some partitioning because we still have detention policies that we have to abide by.”
Qualia says family units are being release within 48 hours but do count with medical services, food, showers, and sleeping areas while being at the facility. The facility also has 36 showers in total, 18 for men and 18 for women.
Each section in the tent is identified by a color for migrants to understand where they are located as many don’t know how to read, according to border patrol agents.
The total cost to build both this facility and the one in El Paso was near 40 million dollars, something Donna’s mayor says was necessary in the RGV sector.
“I’m glad that they’re doing the 500 men facility here. I think in no time it’s probably going to double or triple. We have information that there is several more thousand coming.” Says Rick Morales, Donna Mayor.
They also say the facility is expected to be fully operating as early as tonight or tomorrow morning. The facility will be operating for the next four months but will extend month to month if needed.