Hundreds of Migrants Detained in Tents in Texas

Hundreds of migrants are being held in a tent city at a Border Patrol station in El Paso, Texas. Five US Army tents, originally intended to house battlefield hospitals, were used to house migrants, including children and infants, The Daily Beast first reported. The tents were reportedly set up in the past week and are surrounded by barbed wire fences.

Earlier this month, Congresswoman Nanette Barragán (D-Calif.) visited one of the tent facilities with a congressional delegation. She tweeted about the living conditions some of the migrants were experiencing.

“We’re at Station #1 where we met with families who were transported from the PDN Bridge. We’re told conditions here are better but families are held in tents, women & children are wearing dirty clothes & sleeping on the ground with Mylar blankets, including a four month old baby,” Barragán wrote on April 5. She told The Daily Beast that the migrants are receiving basic needs, such as showers and supplies for infants.

“One woman had a baby, a five-month-old baby and said she’d been there for five days. The baby had filthy clothes,” Barragán told The Daily Beast. “The situation is unhealthy. People are in a confined space, they’re not getting showers, their clothes are dirty, babies are not getting Pampers like they should be. These ladies were crying and telling us their stories and it was just heartbreaking.” The congresswoman told the publication that many of the migrants did not have cots to sleep on and had to sleep on the temporary floor with an asphalt parking lot underneath it.

“I was really taken aback by the smell. I was in there for five minutes and I just became nauseous, I hate to say it. It’s just too many people for that size area and people hadn’t had a shower for many days,” Barragán told the outlet. “Border Patrol told us it was their goal to get people a shower every three days, but the mother I spoke to there hadn’t had one and she’d been there for five.”

The news comes as the Trump administration announced that it wants to open two tent facilities to temporarily detain up to 1,000 migrants near the southern border, The Associated Press reported. US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) said in a notice obtained by the publication that potential contractors want to house 500 people in each camp in El Paso and Donna, Texas. The facilities would consist of one large tent with sections dividing migrants by gender, families, and children traveling alone. The facilities would supply mats for the detainees, laundry facilities, showers, and an area with a fence for “outside exercise/recreation,” the notice read, according to the AP.

Earlier this month, the Trump administration shut down an outdoor migrant “holding pen” underneath an international bridge that connects El Paso, Texas with Ciudad Juarez. The closure followed escalating media coverage and backlash from Civil Rights groups.

On Tuesday, Attorney General William P. Barr directed judges to deny bond hearings for asylum seekers, The Washington Post reported. The decision could keep migrants waiting longer in detention centers until their cases are heard, according to the publication. The agency reportedly made 53,000 apprehensions in March of families from Central America who are requesting asylum in the US, the AP reported.

Following the decision, Civil Rights organizations including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said it will take legal action, saying the decision is against the Constitution.

“Attorney General William Barr tonight directed immigration judges to deny bond hearings to asylum seekers,” the ACLU tweeted on Tuesday. “Our Constitution does not allow the government to lock up asylum seekers without basic due process. We'll see the administration in court. Again.”

About the Author

Maria Perez is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has an M.A. in Urban Reporting from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She has been published in the various venues, including Newsweek, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, City Limits, and local newspapers like The Wave and The Home Reporter.