55,000-sq-ft Child Migrant Holding Facility to Rise in Texas

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The Associated Press is reporting that the Department of Homeland Security is building a huge holding center near the border with Mexico to accommodate the surge of undocumented children entering the country.

The permits, obtained by the Associated Press on 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."

This development comes as comprehensive immigration reform remains out of reach, as government officials are still pushing their preferred solutions to the recent child migrant surge. Since October, more than 52,000 children have been apprehended on the U.S./Mexico border as part of an influx blamed on gang violence in Central America and rumors of permits allowing migrants to stay. 

Authorities can't agree on what to do. In the House, Democrats have introduced a bill that would provide the kids with immigration lawyers. Meanwhile Republicans are pushing for increased border security, and some officials are penning pleas to parents to stop sending their kids. 

More immigration lawyers

During a press conference on Monday, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries said it's a "fantasy to believe that they have a fair shot in immigration proceedings without counsel," according to Reuters. He and other lawmakers supporting the bill argue that 40 to 50 percent of undocumented children would win the right to stay in the U.S., according to studies by the United Nations, and the country could save $2 billion it now spends on housing. 

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Secure the border

Sen. Ted Cruz joined with Attorney General Greg Abbott to call on the federal government to address the crisis with a two step plan. “We need to act to stop it, number one, by finally securing the borders and, number two, by not offering amnesty, which only incentivizes more people to violate the law,” Cruz said, according to The Los Angeles Times. The two acknowledge that this is sad, and the children go through horrifying conditions to reach the border, but blame Obama's "lawlessness" for inspiring policies that led to rumors that "permisos" that grant amnesty to stay exist. 

Hope parents stop sending kids

In an open letter to parents in Central America considering sending their children to America published over the weekend, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson told parents illegal immigration "is not the solution," according to The Huffington Post. While the dangers of the trip are well known, many migrants have repeated the permisos rumors. "(L)et me be clear: There is no path to deferred action or citizenship, or one being contemplated by Congress," he wrote. Instead, "anyone who is apprehended crossing our border illegally is a priority for deportation, regardless of age." Last week, Johnson promised to send federal resources to the border, including funds for additional "family detention facilities, immigration judges and lawyers," according to The Times

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.