As of March 2nd, a migrant facility in Donna, Texas was at 729% pandemic-era capacity as an increase of unaccompanied minors continues along the southern border.
The Customs and Border Protection holding facility in Donna is designed to hold 250 migrants, however, the complex is now holding over 1,800 people. The facility opened in February but it has been operating over its pandemic-era capacity for weeks. According to Homeland Security Officials, Border Agents come across 4,000 to 5,000 people daily. Chris Cabrera, spokesman for the National Border Patrol Council explained that “we’re overcrowded. We don’t have anywhere to put people. We have them in our custody and the system has bogged down and there’s no place for us to send them.” The facility held 854 children on February 21 and nearly 700 on March 10.
Leecia Welch, an attorney with the National Center for Youth Law, expressed that “She cannot stress enough how urgent the situation is with the growing number of young unaccompanied children. We spoke to numerous distraught children who don’t understand why they can’t talk to their parents, see their siblings at Donna, or get some fresh air.” Neha Desai, a lawyer representing migrant youth in U.S. government custody, stated that “Some of the boys said that conditions were so overcrowded that they had to take turns sleeping on the floor.” Additionally, most of the minors Desai spoke to at the facility have only showered once, even though they had been in CBP care for days. “They all said they wanted to shower more and were told they couldn’t,” she added.
While the Biden administration has said that the increase of migrants coming across the border is “overwhelming”, they have not yet labeled it a “crisis”. In February, more than 100,000 migrants were encountered at the border. Agents in the Rio Grande Valley sector in Texas are coming into contact with 1,500 migrants a day. Despite the White House not labeling it a “crisis,” local leaders in border states have repeatedly claimed it as such.
On March 6, Governor Greg Abbott and the Texas Department of Public Safety launched Operation Lone Star to combat the smuggling of people and drugs into Texas. “The crisis at our southern border continues to escalate because of Biden administration policies that refuse to secure the border and invite illegal immigration,” said Gov. Abbott. Furthermore, “Texas supports legal immigration but will not be an accomplice to the open border policies that cause, rather than prevent, a humanitarian crisis in our state and endanger the lives of Texans. We will surge the resources and law enforcement personnel needed to confront this crisis.”
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ARTICLE: GABRIELLA ANTOS
POLITICS EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: CBS NEWS