A surge of 148,000 illegal immigrants in seven months has led Border Patrol officials to warehouse humans in temporary buildings. Crowding is becoming so significant that fire marshals are objecting to housing facilities.
“It’s clear DHS is not adequately prepared to deal with this surge in border crossers in South Texas,” said Breitbart Texas contributing editor and border security expert Sylvia Longmire, “which it should have been if it had been properly analyzing country conditions in Central America that led to this mass exodus in the first place.”
The McAllen Border Patrol Station is rated by the McAllen fire marshal to hold 459 people at any given time, according to an article by Karen Antonacci at The Monitor. This number includes staff members. However, according to representatives from the local Border Patrol union, the surge of illegal immigrants in this sector has led to the facility housing anywhere from 1,000 to 1,250 at any given time.
“Housing them like this is inhumane,” said Border Patrol Agent Chris Cabrera, who serves as vice president of the local Border Patrol union. “We are trying to make sure our guys get taken care of and on top of that — the people detained”
The local fire marshal, Juan Salinas, told The Monitor he looked into the situation. He said, “They are not as comfortable, but 1,000 should be able to stay there safely.” He then added, “Plus, where am I going to put them?” Salinas said the facility could actually hold up to 1,600 people safely.
In the video report below, CBS reporter Anna Werner shows just how big a problem the surge is becoming for Border Patrol agents and for residents in South Texas, who fear for their safety because of the ever-increasing numbers of illegal immigrants in the Rio Grande sector.
Homeland Security is coordinating efforts with the General Services Administration to begin work on four new buildings on forty acres, adjacent to the McAllen Border Patrol Station. Breitbart Texas previously reported DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson’s declaration of a “level-four condition of readiness,” which allows DHS to work with other federal agencies to increase illegal immigrant warehousing facilities. “These plans for capacity expansion in South Texas are obviously very welcome, but a little too late,” Sylvia Longmire said. “Because of the extended processing times and cramped conditions, it’s likely that many of these immigrants with no criminal records will be released on their own recognizance to await their immigration hearings, and many of those will abscond.”
“Many will also be released into other border communities far from south Texas,” Longmire continued, “which places the burden of accommodating these immigrants–many of whom are vulnerable and confused–on other border cities and towns that are equally unprepared.”
DHS also plans to remodel the old Border Patrol Station, which is about twelve blocks from the current facility. That process will take up to a year to complete.
The Monitor reports, “Border Patrol agents here have detained more than 148,000 people from Oct. 1 to May 17, an increase of 65 percent from the previous year, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection data.”
Because an even larger majority of these new illegal immigrants are what the Border Patrol refers to as OTMs (Other than Mexicans), the problem becomes even more compounded. Additionally, the juveniles traveling alone create other problems and have led to the opening of a special warehousing facility at Lackland AFB, as previously reported by Breitbart Texas’ Kristin Tate.
“For all the talk of decreased annual apprehensions of illegal immigrants and the attribution of that to better enforcement policies,” Longmire asserted, “this surge makes it clear that cross-border migration hinges more on economic and security conditions south of the border more than any enforcement policies we have in place to try and stop it.”
Border Patrol Agent Cabrera summed up the problem in South Texas by saying, “It’s a band-aid on a broken leg.”
Bob Price is a staff writer and a member of the original Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX.