US Customs and Border Protection had to resort to erecting an entire tent city to house detained illegal immigrants who crossed the border en masse, The Guardian reported on Sunday.
The first two large tents were erected last week near Franklin Mountains in El Paso, Texas, and are expected to house 500 migrants as their asylum applications are being reviewed. The construction crew is working on the interior of the shelter, which is expected to be operational by 1 May.
The tents are a forced measure due to the large number of migrants, who still keep coming to the US border from Latin American countries, despite Mexico's efforts to curb the movement of organized migrant caravans.
"The humanitarian and border security crisis on our south-west border has stretched our resources and processing facilities to the breaking point," said John Sanders, the senior official performing the duties of commissioner. "These temporary facilities will support our efforts to process, care for, and transfer the unprecedented number of families and unaccompanied children crossing the border each day."
The tents are a step above the makeshift shelters that CBP scrambled to organize wherever they could, including the underbelly of the Bridge of the Americas which crosses the border between El Paso and Mexico's Juarez and was almost immediately crowded with illegals. The tents should provide shelter from the sun, as temperatures at the border begin to reach the high 80s, The Guardian reports.
Speaking in a phone interview on Sunday, US President Trump condemned the numbers of illegal immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border, comparing it to Disneyland, a favourite American amusement park.
"When they used to separate children, which was done during the Obama administration, with Bush, with us, with everybody, far fewer people would come," Trump told Fox News. "We go out and we stop the separation. The problem is, you have 10 times more people coming up with their families. It's like Disneyland now."
Still, some migrant advocates remain dissatisfied with CBP's efforts to accommodate the illegal immigrants, saying border patrol agents should simply stop detaining every illegal they see.
"The federal government is fully on board in pursuing a policy where it would like to detain everyone that comes to the border, and we believe that is simply unjust," Dylan Corbett, executive director of the immigration advocacy group Hope Border Institute in El Paso, said. "We don't believe that anyone should be detained if they aren't a threat to the security of our communities."