Texas migrant facility meant for 32 houses 600 children as media allowed first look at border detention center

The center in Donna, Texas, allegedly harbors 4000 migrants, out of which 3,400 are unaccompanied minors


                            Texas migrant facility meant for 32 houses 600 children as media allowed first look at border detention center
Young children lie inside a pod at the Department of Homeland Security holding facility run by the Customs and Border Patrol on March 30, 2021 in Donna, Texas (Getty Images)

An overcrowded migrant facility at the US-Mexico border finally allowed reporters a first look at how they were housing children. A select few reporters and photographers were able to get inside the center in Donna, Texas, allegedly harboring 4000 migrants, out of which 3,400 are unaccompanied minors. In the photos, migrant children can be seen crammed inside plexiglass pods with mylar blankets. 

“There are eight ‘pods’ in total — critics have called them ‘cages’ in reference to criticism leveled at the Trump administration — each containing 500-600 migrants,” Fox News reported. “Guidelines say there should only be 32 migrants in each pod. Donna’s temporary facility is 140,000 square feet. Children sleep on three-inch gym mats and lie under metallic foil blankets. Kids are given masks but many don’t wear them. In one room, pool reporters saw a purple and pink pen surrounding a group of 27 children on an alphabet rug, ranging from 3-9 years old. The youngest child is just four months old.”

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Over 500 Border Patrol agents are working at the facility, reporters were told. Fox estimates this should cost around $6 million monthly, but instead costs $16 million a month now. “The Department of Homeland Security turned over 600 unaccompanied children to HHS on Monday and will have 270 migrants leave on Tuesday. Two planes are flying out each day from the Rio Grande Valley each day to El Paso and San Diego transporting migrants,” Fox News adds.

President Joe Biden did away with the Migrant Protection Protocol (MPP), dubbed the 'Remain in Mexico' that detained foreigners illegally trying to enter the US, while they awaited hearings. Biden's implemented plan has been slammed as the “catch-and-release” policy by conservatives, as it allows immigrants to illegally enter the US. The Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents also allegedly apprehended nearly 100,000 people at the border in February, a marked increase from when figures dipped to 16,000 in April last year at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, reveals Pew data.

The Donna location is the main detention center for unaccompanied children coming across the U.S. border in the Rio Grande Valley. The children are housed by the hundreds in eight pods that are about 3,200 square feet in size. Many of the pods had more than 500 children in them. The youngest of the unaccompanied minors are kept separate from the rest of the detainees.  (Photo by Dario Lopez-Mills - Pool/Getty Images)

Former POTUS Donald Trump has since accused Biden of causing “death and human tragedy” by changing his border policies. “We proudly handed the Biden Administration the most secure border in history,” the former president said in a statement. "All they had to do was keep this smooth-running system on autopilot. Instead, in the span of a just few weeks, the Biden Administration has turned a national triumph into a national disaster. They are in way over their heads and taking on water fast.”

Biden's team on the other hand blamed Trump last week for the alleged surge at the border. “Biden officials claim Trump officials did not fully cooperate with his transition team, hindering their ability get a realistic view of potential migration, and that Trump deconstructed the immigration and asylum system – which they then inherited,” the Daily Mail reported on Sunday.

The Biden administration has just allowed journalists inside its main detention facility at the border for migrant children. It is an overcrowded tent structure where more than 4,000 kids and families are kept in pods, with the youngest kept in a large play pen with mats on the floor for sleeping. (Photo by Dario Lopez-Mills - Pool/Getty Images)

“As we were coming into the administration, we knew we were inheriting an absolute mess from the previous administration — that there were aspects of our legal immigration system that had been gutted and a department that lacked the personnel to administer our laws,” CNN quoted Julie Chavez Rodriguez, the director of the White House’s office of intergovernmental affairs.

Acting CBP Commissioner Mark Morgan however told the outlet that the Biden transition team was “specifically warned again and again and again,” adding that they were also provided a model for projected increase in border encounters in the case they withdrew Trump's border policies.

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