U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents took reporters on a tour of a new temporary facility in Yuma that they say will help them care for the hundreds of migrants who are surrendering to them at the U.S-Mexico border.
The new temporary facility is located on Yuma Border Patrol station property on Avenue A between the Airport and the Municipal Golf Course. It’s a series of tents- the main tent where family units and unaccompanied children will be processed and screened for their health. There are four pods with a capacity of 125 people each. There are foam sleeping pads, portable toilets and a television in each pod, as well as security guards and cameras. There is a loud roar of the air conditioners, running on generators to protect migrants and agents alike from the hot summer sun.
Agents say there is a capacity of about 500 migrants. Single men will continue to stay in the main holding room at the Yuma station. Migrants will be placed in the new facility once officials get the okay, which is expected to be early Saturday, but could be as early as Friday night.
Migrants will get three meals plus snacks each day. There are showers and laundry facilities on site.
Migrants are expected to spend between one and three days max in the facility while they await transfer to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services-Office of Refugee Resettlement. The migrants are ultimately released to area non-governmental organizations in Yuma and San Luis.
Anthony Porvaznik is the Chief Patrol Agent for the Yuma Border Patrol Sector.
“It’s a vulnerable population and we need to do everything we can to process them, care for them and hold them in a facility like this as humanely as possible and we do," Porvaznik said. "Our agents and our support personnel treat this population as we do all the people we have in our custody with dignity and respect and as humanely as we possibly can with the resources we have.”
Porvaznik said the facility will be on site for at least four months, with an option to add one month at a time up to four additional months. Construction of the facility began June 15 at a cost of about $15 million.