ICE officers have set up a new outdoor processing center in Texas as they struggle to deal with the soaring number of migrants crossing the southern border.
Photographs of the giant open-air facility – located in the Rio Grande Valley Center of the state – were obtained by Fox News on Saturday.
The shocking snaps show hundreds of migrants sitting in a fenced-off area at the haphazard facility, set up under an overpass, after they arrived in the United States from Mexico.
The migrants are reportedly sorted into’ family units’, ‘unaccompanied minors’ and ‘single adults’ before they being bused off to other facilities – which are also reported to be dangerously overcrowded.
Officials in the Rio Grande Valley report that they are now apprehending more than 1,500 migrants in their small area each day.
Last month, more than 100,000 migrants were caught trying to cross the southern border.
ICE officers have set up a new outdoor processing center in Texas as they struggle to deal with the soaring number of migrants crossing the southern border
Photographs of the giant open-air facility – located in the Rio Grande Valley Center of the state – were obtained by Fox News on Saturday
Officials do not have the infrastructure to cope for such soaring numbers, and one holding center for minors is now said to be at 729 percent of its legal capacity.
On Saturday night, DHS security Alejandro Majorkas announced he has directed the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to help with surge of unaccompanied migrant children arriving in the US.
Meanwhile, ICE has asked for volunteers to help at the border ‘as soon as this weekend’.
Despite the humanitarian concerns, Joe Biden and members of his administration have refused to call the situation a ‘crisis’.
However, they have admitted that their ‘more humane’ border policies may have sparked the surge of illegal immigrants flowing into the country.
Since taking office, Biden lifted the Trump policy that forced migrants to remain in Mexico while going through the legal process to enter the US, narrowed the ICE’s criteria for arrests and deportations and stopped the building of Trump’s border wall.
These moves have led thousands upon thousands of migrants pouring into America leaving the border’s children’s centers so full that kids are being forced to spend up to 10 days in cramped detention centers meant for adults and sparking a backlog and logistical nightmare in processing the new entrants.
Biden is coming under fire from both parties with Republicans planning to use what they have branded ‘Biden’s Border Crisis’ as their ticket to taking back the House in 2022, while Democrats have hit out at the White House’s lack of preparedness for the influx his changes were in no doubt of bringing.
Despite the humanitarian concerns, Joe Biden and members of his administration have refused to call the situation a ‘crisis’
On Saturday night, DHS security Alejandro Majorkas announced he has directed the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to help with surge of unaccompanied migrant children arriving in the US
An aerial view of the Donna facility which is at 726 percent of its legal pandemic capacity
More than 3,500 unaccompanied teens and children have been held in Customs Border Patrol (CBP) detention centers designed for adults in recent days.
Children must legally be transferred from CBP detention centers to the HHS shelters within 72 hours of their arrival.
But this requirement has gone out of the window as the latest data from the Department of Homeland Security shows most children are spending on average 108 hours in the cramped CBP facilities.
More than 130 children have been held in the CBP facilities for 10 days.
Children at one facility in south Texas are going hungry with many reporting they have only been able to shower once in seven days as the center is at 729 percent of its legal capacity, reported CBS.
Under pandemic safety rules to allow for social distancing, the CBP holding facility in Donna is permitted to hold a maximum of 250 migrants.
On March 2, there were more than 1,800 people held in the facility, CBS reported.
The facility was initially erected as a temporary site in anticipation of a surge in migration while the permanent center in McAllen is renovated but is already busting at the seams.
Neha Desai, a lawyer representing migrant youth in government custody, told the outlet children are being forced to sleep on the floor due to a lack of beds while some are being held as long as seven days – more than double the legal 72-hour limit.
‘Some of the boys said that conditions were so overcrowded that they had to take turns sleeping on the floor,’ Desai said after interviewing almost a dozen unaccompanied migrant children at the center.
‘They all said they wanted to shower more and were told they couldn’t.’
Migrant families and children climb the banks of the Rio Grande River into the United States as smugglers on rafts prepare to return to Mexico
A migrant walks amid tents at an improvised camp outside El Chaparral crossing port as he and others wait for US authorities to allow them to start their migration process in Tijuana
Acting CBP commissioner Troy Miller said in a press call Wednesday the children are being well looked after with welfare checks, blankets, baby formula, hot meals and showers at least every 48 hours.
‘Many of us, maybe most of us, are parents. I myself have a 6-year-old, and these Border Patrol agents go above and beyond every single day to take care of the children,’ he said.
However he admitted the agency is ‘struggling’ with the surge of migrant families and children at the facilities since Biden eased immigration rules when he came into office.
Border Patrol agents found 96,974 migrants last month, up from 75,312 in January. Another 3,467 were taken into custody at ports of entry.
Almost half – 43 per cent – were from Mexico, with 20 per cent from Honduras, 19 per cent from Guatemala, 6 per cent from El Salvador, and 12 per cent from other countries.
Two thirds, 68,732, of those encountered were single adults – the most single adults for any month since October 2011, according to the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), which advocates for human rights and social justice along the border.
So far in March, more than 4,200 people are arriving into America across the border per day, which if sustained would be more than 126,000.
Migrants from Central America are pictured at the Paso del Norte International Bridge after being deported
Migrants entering the US at the Paso del Norte International Bridge in El Paso, Texas on March 1
Special Advisor to the president Roberta Jacobson admitted in a White House briefing on Wednesday that the timing of the surge in migrants was ‘no coincidence’ with the change in rules under Biden.
‘We’ve seen surges before. Surges tend to respond to hope, and there was significant hope for a more humane policy after four years of pent-up demand,’ she said.
‘So I don’t know if I would call that a coincidence.’
Jacoboen said that the ‘more humane policy’ now in place has likely given rise to rumors among people traffickers of leniency.
The ‘coyotes’, as the smugglers are known, have then encouraged more migrants to pay to make the journey, she said.
‘The idea that a more humane policy would be in place may have driven people to make that decision, but perhaps, more importantly, it definitely drove smugglers to express disinformation, spread disinformation about what was now possible,’ she said.
A new CNN poll shows immigration as the subject area where Biden is getting the lowest marks, with 49 per cent disapproving of the Democrat’s handling, compared to 43 per cent who approve.
Honduran nationals are escorted out of the brush by a Texas State Trooper after crossing the Rio Grande river into the United States from Mexico on a raft
Border Patrol agents found 96,974 migrants last month, up from 75,312 in January. Another 3,467 were taken into custody at ports of entry
Almost half – 43 per cent – were from Mexico, with 20 per cent from Honduras, 19 per cent from Guatemala, 6 per cent from El Salvador, and 12 per cent from other countries