Immigration News 2014: Nogales, Arizona Mayor Shares Details on 'Very Nice' Facility Holding Hundreds of Undocumented Children
Arizona has been getting a lot of attention since it was revealed that thousands of children attempting to immigrate illegally were being sent to shelters in the state. Despite reports that these shelters are overcrowded, Nogales, Arizona Mayor Arturo Garino is complimenting efforts.
On Monday, Garino toured a facility in his town holding about 700-1,000 migrant children mostly from Central America, according to state officials, who were sent there after being caught crossing the Texas border. Immigration authorities have been quiet about how the kids make it from Texas to Arizona, but said they will continue flying them into Arizona, according to The Associated Press.
"This process of having close to 1,000 [children] in there ... for anybody else it would probably be a nightmare, but for Border Patrol, they're doing a good job," Garino told News/Talk 92.3 KTAR's Mac & Gaydos on Monday.
Last month, the number of children crossing into Texas' Rio Grande Valley became out of control, causing the U.S. Department of Homeland to fly undocumented children to Arizona. The minors must notify an Immigration and Customs Enforcement office of their travel plans within 15 days.
"What they have is not going to be considered a detention center; it's a transition center," Garino explained. "They're processing anywhere from 200 to 300 of the kids, and then from there, they're being taken to other locations where they're going to finalize, probably, making that connection with the parents or continuing the immigration process."
Garino said the facility was divided by sex, with each section featuring portable toilets in ventilated areas. The facility also has two cafeterias with food from a caterer and telephones.
"The warehouse is very nice comparing to a lot of what I've heard," Garino told AP. "... I'm very comfortable with it."
The mayor added that the facility has brought in six "semi-truck-types" for bathing and another that will be used as a laundromat. In addition, a medical staff has vaccinated the children.
According to data from Border Patrol, the number of children illegally immigrating from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras without adults has increased over 1,000 percent. In fiscal year 2009, 3,304 children from those countries were caught at the border. This year, that number has already exceeded 48,000.
"From what I understand, everyone is going to be processed through [the center]," Garino said. "None of them are going to stay there. I think at the second phase of it or the second location where they get transported to, that's where they're going to go through the immigration process. I don't know if it's deportation or what, but none of that is going to happen here in Nogales. Nogales is just a transition area."
Border officials plan to keep sending unaccompanied minors to Arizona as long as the problem persists, AP reports.
"One thing has been made clear to the state: This is a federal operation from head to toe and they have no intention to terminate it in the foreseeable future," Andrew Wilder, a spokesman for Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, told The Republic.
Follow Scharon Harding on Twitter: @ScharHar.
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