Border Patrol just set up 2 new 'tent cities' for migrants. Here's a look inside.

  • The US government has set up two new “tent city” encampments to house migrants while they’re processed by Border Patrol.
  • Two temporary complexes are now in El Paso and Donna, Texas, and cost $US36.9 million.
  • The US has indeed seen a major surge in Central American migrant families arriving in the US and requesting asylum, leaving Border Patrol agents and facilities overwhelmed.
  • Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more stories.

The US government has set up two new “tent city” encampments to house migrant families, as an influx of migrants have overwhelmed Border Patrol’s existing facilities.

The two temporary tent complexes in El Paso and Donna, Texas, cost $US36.9 million and are set to house migrants at least until August.

In a press release on Thursday, the Customs and Border Protection agency referred to the tents as “soft-sided structure.” The agency said they were set up “in response to the unprecedented number of families and unaccompanied children from non-contiguous countries illegally crossing the border.”

Read more: US-Mexico border apprehensions have skyrocketed to a 12-year high as officials warn of a ‘breaking point’

The US has indeed seen a major surge in Central American migrant families arriving in the US and requesting asylum. More than 103,000 people were apprehended at the US-Mexico border in March, and April’s numbers are anticipated to be even higher.

“US Border Patrol’s facilities are stretched beyond capacity,” John Sanders, the acting CBP commissioner, said in a statement. “I have seen firsthand the dedication and compassion of our frontline personnel who need additional resources to respond to this unprecedented humanitarian crisis.”

Here’s what the tent complex in Donna looks like.

Each of the tent complexes can accommodate up to 500 people.

CBP said the tents are “weatherproof and climate-controlled,” with separate areas for eating, sleeping, recreation, and bathing.

There are trailers for showers, laundry, and office spaces, and the tents have chemical toilets and sinks inside.

Retuers/Loren ElliottAn interior area for housing migrants is seen during a tour of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) temporary facilities in Donna, Texas, U.S. May 2, 2019.

For sleeping, migrants will have to use mats on the ground.

There’s also a platform for security guards to stand watch.

The complex is stocked with medical items like disposable masks and gloves.

There’s also an area sectioned off specifically for medical services.

The facilities are also outfitted with 48-inch flatscreen TVs, DVD players, and a stack of children’s movies.

Source: The New York Times

The facilities are equipped with fingerprint scanners. CBP recently announced that Border Patrol agents would fingerprint some migrant children aged 13 or younger for fear that some children are being trafficked.

Source: Associated Press

A sign written in English warns that CBP has “zero tolerance for sexual abuse & assault,” and offers information on how to report sexual misconduct. Thousands of migrant children were allegedly sexually abused or harassed in the last four years while they were in US government custody.

Read more:
Sexual abuse and harassment reports in migrant children’s shelters spiked during Trump’s family separations

The tent cities aren’t meant for long stays — they’re only meant to house migrants in the period of days Border Patrol takes to initially process them.

These new facilities come after CBP faced harsh scrutiny over housing migrant families in deplorable conditions. At one point, hundreds of migrants, including young children, were held in an open-air enclosure under a bridge.


Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.