McAllen Immigration Processing Center Reaching Maximum Capacity
MCALLEN – A processing center in McAllen for immigrants apprehended by Border Patrol is reaching maximum capacity.
CHANNEL 5 NEWS spoke to the council spokesperson about what they think is behind the crowding.
According to Customs and Border Protection records, the volume of people coming into the U.S. illegally is nowhere near what the country saw in 2014.
Whoever is caught crossing illegally through the border, most of the time ends up at the processing center.
It's under CBP and located in McAllen. It was constructed during the surge of 2014. Up to 1,000 immigrants can be processed before they are taken by either ICE or DHS agencies.
It's been hitting full capacity.
Agents report they have been hitting the capacity to the National Border Patrol Council.
They say it happens from time to time, but this month it's been more frequent says spokesman Chris Cabrera.
"I get texts probably three or four times a week saying that the processing center down in McAllen is at capacity. It's at a 1,000, 1200, 1300 and they're having to shut it down where no more people can come in. So, we're now having to send it back to the station," Cabrera explained.
CHANNEL 5 NEWS asked CBP to confirm these reports. They replied they "do not concur."
We went to the processing center on two different days this week.
In a one-hour period, we saw four buses go in one day and three the other day. Only one came back out full.
Cabrera says immigrants are not coming out fast enough. He mentioned they had extra help from other sectors during the surge. They don't have that now. Agents are concerned.
He said, "When you have the processing center at capacity, that means they'll pull people from the line to work the processing center to speed up the processing. But, that leaves the line depleted and you're having more people come over undetected and it presents an officer safety issue for our agents."
Cabrera believes catch-and-release is also propagating the problem. He believes placing an immigration officer at the center would help too.
Levels of apprehension have been on a steady increase since January. About 9,400 were apprehended in January.
By September, it was at close to 20,000. It's a lot less than the busiest month during the surge at about 38,000 apprehensions.