US to Convert Warehouse for Child Migrant Processing
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.
The permits, obtained by The Associated Press Monday through a public records request, 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 respond to a request for comment.
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 have been arrested in the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas.
U.S. law requires that 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.