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Respite Center to Continue Plans for New Facility

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MCALLEN - Sacred Heart Respite Center's plans to build a new facility are moving forward despite a decline in people who are crossing the border illegally. 

The respite center was created in 2014 in response to the immigrant influx that year.

Sister Norma Pimentel, director for the center, said the decline is not a reason to draw back plans that were established late last year. 

 "We used to have trips that would be coming at different times of the day, and now it's just one trip, one time in the afternoon that we receive anybody that may be allowed to travel," she said. 

Pimentel said only a handful of people make their way through the center some days. 

According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the total number of apprehensions by Border Patrol in FY 2016 was more than 400,000. The number under 200,000 so far in FY 2017

"Before, we were seeing way over 100 to 150 a day, and right now we're seeing 50 this week," she said. 
However, Pimentel noted there's one number on the rise. 

CBP data also showed family units apprehended in FY 2016 was more than 16,000. The number surpassed 35,000 so far in FY 2017. 

Although the data shows numbers are down, Pimentel said it doesn't show a halt. 

"Anybody that comes through these doors, that needs help, that has not had something to eat then we will offer them what they need," she said. 

Pimentel said they plan to move forward with a new facility that is already underway. 

"What we have here we always share it with whoever needs it. Whether it's a pregnancy program, the Salvation Army or any other group that is trying to respond to the needs of people," she said. 

Pimentel said they'll continue to offer assistance as long as it's needed. 
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Plans for the new facility took longer to establish due to changes in the design of the building. Pimentel added construction should start in the coming month. 

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