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U.S. plans child migrant processing center in Texas

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Posted: Tuesday, June 24, 2014 4:30 am

McALLEN — The U.S. government plans to turn an empty 55,000-square foot warehouse in South Texas into a processing facility for unaccompanied children who have entered the country illegally, according to construction permits obtained by The Associated Press through a public records request Monday.

The permits reveal plans for four fence-enclosed pods inside a corrugated steel warehouse in McAllen that could eventually accommodate about 1,000 children. The Department of Homeland Security did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.

More than 52,000 unaccompanied minors have been arrested since October after entering the United States illegally, a 99 percent increase over the same period a year earlier. About three-quarters of those children were arrested in the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas.

U.S. law requires the children be processed and transferred to custody of the Health and Human Services Department within 72 hours of their arrest. The wave of children has overwhelmed Border Patrol stations in South Texas that are ill-equipped to house children for an extended period of time, so Homeland Security has been flying planeloads of children to Arizona for processing at a facility in Nogales before sending them to shelters around the country.

The new processing facility would be less than a mile from the Rio Grande Valley’s busiest Border Patrol station. Floor plans show rows of cells with unsecured doors on either side of open “interaction/play” areas.

Boys and girls would be separated and portable toilets would be installed.

“Minors will be staged here until processing is completed and then they (will be) moved to a different location,” according to a fire protection engineering analysis submitted by the U.S. General Services Administration.

That agency, which provides buildings for government operations, signed a one-year lease for the property.

The documents do not indicate when renovations would be complete. City attorney Kevin Pagan said McAllen expedited the permitting process.

Most of the children are from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. Many are fleeing widespread gang violence, and some are looking to reunite with parents already in the United States.

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson wrote an open letter to Central American parents warning them of the dangers of such a journey and emphasizing that the children could be deported.

“The criminal smuggling networks that you pay to deliver your child to the United States have no regard for his or her safety and well-being — to them, your child is a commodity to be exchanged for a payment,” the letter said.

© 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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  • Proud Mother of an Army Avi8er posted at 8:10 am on Wed, Jun 25, 2014.

    Proud Mother of an Army Avi8er Posts: 342

    ILLEGAL is ILLEGAL...AMERICANS that break the law are arrested.
    Send these ILLEGAL back to the country they came from.
    They are making a mockery of our government and country.
    Plain and simple...we cannot afford to take them in.

    When AMERICA doesn't have to borrow money...when we not longer have our own...hungry...poor and homeless and when every AMERICAN VET is taken care of...then we can help other countries.

    Charity starts at home...USA!

  • Eliza posted at 10:10 pm on Tue, Jun 24, 2014.

    Eliza Posts: 1093

    Some of these people, Illegal Aliens- are not kids.
    The pictures on the web site UK, who has done an extensive report, are young adult men .
    None of these people look mal-nourished, they all are well dressed, good hair cuts, good shoes. Not what we have been allowed or tried to be forced to believe.

  • Texian1313 posted at 9:54 am on Tue, Jun 24, 2014.

    Texian1313 Posts: 60

    Kids or not they are NOT immigrants, they are ILLEGAL A-L-I-E-N-S!