Video at source link.

Officials: Facility may help curb future illegal-immigrant surges

POSTED: 07:50 PM CDT Mar 11, 2015 UPDATED: 08:18 PM CDT Mar 11, 2015


Border Patrol officials say they are working to prevent another surge of illegal immigrants.

Officials say a new detention center may help dissuade those seeking to enter the country illegally.

More than 250,000 illegal immigrants trekked through the Rio Grande Valley during the recent surge. Many of those were women and children.

Border Patrol agents didn't have enough space to hold them. Most were sent away by plane or bus. Some were released in the Valley.

The agency just purchased a warehouse used to detain women and children.

"At the height of the influx it was holding 2,000 unaccompanied children," said Ramiro Garza, agent in charge of facility.

Only 60 women and children remain at the detention facility.

Garza said the facility is crucial for local operations.

"It's huge for us. It's absolutely a game changer. This allows me to take these different groups, get them out of my population and let me focus on the criminal aliens," Garza said.

"We've gained the ability to detain about 1,000 extra people, specifically women and children," Garza said.

"This facility … reduces our requirement to ship people out, because it reduces my detention times," Garza said.

Garza explained the detention process.

Agents pick up an illegal immigrant. That person is processed, fingerprinted at a station. If the detainee is a woman or child they are sent to the facility.

Detainees may stay there a day or two before they move on to the next federal detention center.

Garza did not say if the detention center would help prevent massive releases like the ones that happened in 2014.

Garza said he hopes word gets to Central America about the new detention center.

"The hope is that the understanding is now getting out that hey listen. We're not just going to let you come in through the buildings and come out the front door," he said.

"Being able to detain them, being able to clean them, get them off in the process and not release people is a game changer for all of us," Garza said.