The Central Processing Center here in McAllen became a symbol for the Trump administration’s immigration policies’ harshest elements, particularly concerning migrating families. Ironically, it was the Obama administration that opened it in 2014 to deal with then-record numbers of Central American families coming through Mexico seeking asylum in the United States.
More humane conditions promised
According to reports, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials plan to renovate the warehouse space for at least 18 months.
According to Thomas Gresback, a spokesman for the Border Patrol’s Rio Grande Valley sector: “The new design will allow for updated accommodations, which will greatly improve the operating efficiency of the center as well as the welfare of individuals being processed.”
They will remove the chain-linked “cages” so graphically documented in the media. There will be plexiglass partitions instead of chain-link fences and more room for migrant children to play. They will downsize the capacity from 1,500 to 1,100, and there will be other important changes.
The CBP initially opened to deal with record numbers migrants coming north in 2014, dangerously overcrowding the border stations. It was a cheap, fast, clean and air-conditioned solution to the surge in numbers. The plan was to use it to temporarily hold immigrants until they went to other more permanent facilities.
We may not be able to wait
The U.S. economy is at a historic low in 2020, but the same factors are also making an impact around the world, including Mexico and Central America. It prompts some to wonder if there will be massive surges in migration numbers again when it is safer to travel. The Biden campaign promises to use a less restrictive approach in processing migrants and asylum seekers. It may also prompt human traffickers to try and bring more clients across the border.
Migrants still have legal protections
It’s impossible to predict what will happen at the borders accurately, but the fact remains that these migrants still have legal rights protections under the law. Hopefully, the CBP’s renovation of the McAllen facility will make it safer and more humane, but they may still need to be held accountable for their actions.