Feds set up massive tents in two border cities where 71% of migrant families are arriving

Monday, May 20, 2019
By Paul Martin

by Anna Giaritelli
May 20, 2019

The Trump administration has put up two massive tents to hold migrants in cities along the U.S.-Mexico border where nearly three-quarters of migrant families are arriving, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said Monday.

Department of Homeland Security officials chose to stand up the “soft-sided” facilities in Donna, Texas, and El Paso, Texas, this month to provide a “safe environment with a level of comfort” for people who have traveled hundreds of miles “at the very least, in less than humane conditions,” according to Eric Eldridge, Customs and Border Protection’s Office of Facilities and Asset Management’s Facilities, Management and Engineering director.

Customs and Border Protection officials overseeing the projects were given 30 days to plan for and install the structures, and were able to make it happen in 22 days. The agency awarded 50 contracts in that time and quietly opened the facilities May 4.

“Once given the OK to move forward, we all had the approach and attitude that we have to get this up as fast as possible. So, it’s been seven days a week,” Eldridge said in a statement.

The agency was criticized after photos published by CNN last week showed people sleeping and sitting outside a Border Patrol station in nearby McAllen, Texas, because the facilities were too crowded to accommodate everyone indoors.

The new vinyl structures are 400 feet long and 100 feet wide, and they can hold 500 people at a time. The tents come with modern amenities and are climate-controlled to withstand the 100-degree temperatures South Texas sees during the summer months.

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