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500-bed tent facility for migrant minors and families opens in Yuma

By: - June 28, 2019 2:19 pm

An aerial view of a U.S. Customs and Border Protection tent facility in Yuma, Ariz., that will house families and unaccompanied minors for between 24 and 72 hours. Photo by Jerry Glaser | U.S. Customs and Border Protection

A Yuma tent facility to hold migrant families and minors is set to begin operations Friday night, according to the Associated Press

The 500-bed outdoor facility is meant to detain migrant parents who recently arrived at the border with their children, as well as migrant children and teens who arrived alone to seek protections in the U.S.  

Journalists toured the facility Friday morning. Photos posted on Twitter by Jim Cross, a KTAR reporter, showed white tents with large sleeping areas, small mattresses and port-o-potties. 

Michel Marizco, a senior editor with KJZZ, reported the agency was cooling down the facilities Friday morning, and that migrant families were expected to spend between 24 to 72 hours in the tent facility, while unaccompanied minors would be there less than 48 hours. 

The facility has showers, washing machines, and cribs and diapers for babies.

Families and minors make up 88% of border arrests in Yuma area

While all of the U.S.-Mexico border has seen an unprecedented number of migrant families and children arrested by Border Patrol, the Yuma area has seen a higher percentage of those vulnerable groups arriving to border crossings. 

Between October 2018 and May 2019, migrant parents traveling with their children and unaccompanied minors made up 88% of the Border Patrol arrests in the Yuma sector. The national average is 65%.

The Yuma sector covers 126 miles of border from the Imperial Sand Dunes in California to the eastern edge of Yuma County.

In those eight months, border officials arrested 5,972 children and teens traveling alone and 42,225 migrant family members, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection figures.  

migrant mom child
A migrant woman holds her six-month-old baby boy as she sits on the ground outside a Greyhound bus station in Phoenix. She was among a group of around 70 Central American migrants who U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement dropped off on the sidewalk in Buckeye Road and 24th Street in Phoenix on Wednesday, March 20. Photo by Laura Gómez | Arizona Mirror


Border and immigration officials have stated for months the new immigration trend is overwhelming its resources and pushing the system to a breaking point. Citing resource constraints in October 2018, U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement began releasing large groups of migrant families recently processed by border officials to community groups in Phoenix, Tucson and Yuma.

Yuma Mayor Doug Nicholls declared a state of emergency in the small border community in April because its volunteer network couldn’t cope with the release of large groups of migrant families.

According to ICE, it has released 38,000 migrant family members to Arizona community groups between Dec. 21 and June 17.

Local and state governments in California, New Mexico and Texas have set aside funds and provided support to community groups assisting migrant families. Meanwhile, the state of Arizona and the city of Phoenix haven’t provided any meaningful support to the faith-based and non-profits organizations who have for months called for government partners.  

Tent facilities for migrant families and kids are going up in other border communities

On Thursday, the U.S. House of Representatives reluctantly sent a $4.6 million  border emergency funding bill to President Donald Trump, which he is expected to sign. 

While the majority of the emergency funds will go to the Department of Health and Human Services —  which is responsible for the care of all migrant youth who arrived unaccompanied — CBP was set aside $1 billion to support its operations. 

Another $85 million were set aside for CBP to procure, construct and improve migrant care and processing facilities through September of 2023.   

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