Nogales, AZ, United States (4E) – Nearly 1,000 children are sheltering at the Nogales, AZ processing center for illegal immigrants as Texas Border Patrol authorities continue to transfer to the facility hundreds of unaccompanied children caught crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.
The processing center run by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection received 432 unaccompanied minors on Friday and 367 children on Saturday with 367 more expected on Sunday, according to Andrew Wilder, spokesman for Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer.
Sixty minors caught by South Texas Border Patrol arrived at the center by bus and 200 more will arrive Sunday or Monday, said José Joaquín Chacón, consul general of El Salvador in Tucson.
The surge of unaccompanied migrant children escaping countries in Central America in recent months has overloaded Border Patrol stations and detention facilities in Texas prompting their transfer to the Arizona holding facility and bus stations in Phoenix and Tucson.
Customs and Border Protection (CBP) transfers border-crossing migrants to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) within 72 hours of their apprehension and the latter takes care of processing and finding them shelters while their immigration cases are worked out. But more than 46,000 children caught crossing the border in Rio Grande Valley already filled HHS shelters. The Defense Department has also made military bases in San Antonio, Texas, Ventura County, California, and Fort Sill, Oklahoma, available to temporarily house some of the minors.
The Nogales Placement Center can accommodate 1,500 children and CBP said it will be used as a way station before the migrant children are sent to HHS-designated sites instead locking them up at Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention centers. Once their immigration process is nearly complete and they have been screened by the Department of Homeland Security, the children or immigrant families are on their own but will have to report to an ICE office for their immigration case to be further worked out.
Meanwhile, Brewer complained of the “dumping” of illegal immigrants in her state when told by federal authorities that more illegal immigrants will be shipped to the Arizona center. He blamed the government and the unsecure border for the crisis.
In response, the White House said it is asking Congress for for an extra $1.4 billion in next year’s budget to deal with the migrants.