DONNA, Texas (KVEO) — The Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) visited the migrant processing facility on Friday in Donna, Texas.
According to a release, Alejandro Mayorkas, DHS Secretary traveled to the city of Donna to receive updates on unaccompanied children arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border and to view conditions at the Customs and Border Protection facility.
After touring the facility, Mayorkas held a press conference. In touring the facility, Mayorka glimpsed what life is like for unaccompanied migrant children who come to the United States and are then taken under the care of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
“On March 28, across the border, we had 5,767 children in the custody of the United States Border Patrol, they were in Border Patrol custody for an average of 133 hours,” said Mayorkas. “At this facility specifically, on April 2 with more than 4,300 individuals and of those approximately 3,700 were unaccompanied children and were here for an average of 139 hours. ”
Mayorkas said the reason the systems are stressed is due to the Trump administration leaving no framework for immigration behind.
“When our administration began we inherited a system that had been torn down and dismantled and I said at the time in late March that we have a plan to address the challenge of the unaccompanied children,” said Mayorkas.
According to Mayorkas, as of May 7, there are 700 children in border patrol custody along the border and they are in border patrol custody for an average of 26 hours.
Mayorkas then gave credit to several people, including Border Patrol, FEMA, and immigration services.
“The border remains closed and as a part of our all of government effort we are not only addressing the needs of the unaccompanied children pursuant to the law but we are also addressing every other element of that challenge including smuggling organizations,” said Mayorkas.
“We are also executing on the president’s and VP’s direction not only to build back but build back better,” said Mayorkas.
Mayorkas added the Biden administration is committed to passing immigration reform.
During the press conference, Mayorkas was joined by leaders seeking to achieve that reform. Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard, from California, said under the previous administration there was no coordination between border patrol or other agencies.
“Agencies are now working together to develop the process in which these children of the detainees are now able to move,” said Allard. “There still needs to be a lot more done as we look forward, but the fact is that there are now studies being made there are now evaluations being made.”
Rep. Linda Sanchez explained the administration’s plan to introduce the U.S. Citizenship Act to the U.S. House.
The US Citizenship Act is President Joe Biden’s vision for immigration reform with a path to citizenship for Dreamers and other undocumented immigrants.
In February, Sanchez said the US Citizenship Act “will increase worker productivity, create more jobs, improve the wages of all workers and reduce our deficit, and if you don’t believe me, just ask any economist.”
“I know that’s been a tough road for you [Mayorkas], because you inherited a system that had quite frankly been dismantled by the previous administration, and I know that we’re not gonna be able to fix four years of damage in just 4 months,” said Sanchez.
Democrats said the bill will modernize and improve border security and address the root causes of immigration from Central America.
This is not the first time the DHS Secretary has visited the migrant facilities on the border.
In his last visit to the Rio Grande Valley, Mayorkas studied how to alter current immigration policies “to ensure the fair and humane treatment of immigrants, the safety of the workforce, and the wellbeing of communities nearby in the face of a global pandemic.”
In March, Mayorkas visited the same facility in Donna, however, media was not allowed entrance to the event.
The tent facility is located about 20 miles east of the city of McAllen. It was built to help with an overflow of a surge of migrants who have come to the border since President Joe Biden took office.