Federal Government to Setup Additional Tent Facilities along Border
WESLACO – The federal government is eyeing three new sites along the border to expand the Migrant Protection Protocols, a program also known as Remain in Mexico.
One of the sites is in the Rio Grande Valley.
The government seeks to construct temporary soft-sided facilities, or tents, that would function as virtual courtrooms.
These details were shared with the city of Laredo during a meeting between Customs and Border Protection officials and the mayor.
Laredo Mayor Pete Saenz says CBP officials are not the lead agency in this project; he believes the Department of Homeland Security is spearheading this project.
CBP officials disclosed during the meeting the three proposed sites would be in Yuma, Arizona, Laredo and Brownsville, Texas.
The facility in Laredo would receive migrants from Del Rio to Roma; the Brownsville facility would be sent migrants south of that division.
The tents would not be for processing migrants, but for assessing whether their asylum claims are credible.
Saenz says it would be done virtually, something new to the way the federal government is handling asylum seekers.
"They plan to have immigration judges through virtual means through video conferencing. They plan to have between 20 and 27 courtrooms within this tent facility to assess and process these asylum seekers," said the Laredo mayor.
Saenz also says the tent in Laredo would hold up to 200 people. It would be open from 6 a.m. through 8 p.m. five to six days a week. The details are not yet finalized.
The tents are described as temporary, but the city of Laredo disagrees with their proposed location.
Currently, the federal government seeks to construct the tents at an old import lot on an international bridge in Laredo. That site sits directly behind a popular destination hotel overlooking the river.
It's also at the entrance and exit of Laredo's port of entry.
City officials are proposing alternative sites, but are unsure how successful they'll be in convincing the federal government to reconsider.
Saenz said federal officials hope to have the tents operational and their first hearing by mid to late August.
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