For Immediate Release
DHS Press Office
MCALLEN, Texas— Today, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson, Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell and U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski, traveled to Texas to visit Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) facilities in McAllen to oversee the ongoing government-wide response to the recent influx of unaccompanied children and adults with children across the southwest border.
At Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Secretary Johnson, Secretary Burwell and Senator Mikulski reviewed site operations and met with Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) officials to discuss the operations at the facility, which is currently housing unaccompanied children. Secretary Johnson, Secretary Burwell and Senator Mikulski then traveled to the McAllen Border Patrol Station, where they met with Rio Grande Valley Sector Chief Patrol Agent Kevin Oaks and Deputy Chief Patrol Agent Raul Ortiz to discuss challenges and recommended solutions to deal with the influx of unaccompanied children.
Today the President announced that he has directed the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) to move available and appropriate resources from our interior to the border, to deal with the recent influx there. As part of that, Secretary Johnson announced during his visit the immediate deployment of approximately 150 U.S. Border Patrol agents to the Rio Grande Valley Sector to augment illegal entry detection efforts while enhancing processing and detention capabilities. This deployment enhances efforts to execute joint, targeted enforcement operations in order to disrupt and degrade criminal organizations that are responsible for smuggling illegal immigrants and drugs throughout the South Texas Corridor.
Over the past few months, CBP has seen a significant increase in the apprehension of unaccompanied children and adults with children from Central America in the Rio Grande Valley area of the southwest border. While overall border apprehensions across our entire border have only slightly increased during this time period and remain at near historic lows, the rise in apprehensions and processing of children in the Rio Grande Valley presents unique operational challenges for DHS and HHS. CBP has provided updated apprehension data for the southwest border.
The additional deployment is just one of many steps the Department of Homeland Security has taken as part of the ongoing government-wide response. DHS remains committed to managing the urgent situation by making sure these children are housed, fed, and receive any necessary medical treatment. The Administration is also taking steps to improve enforcement and partnering with our Central American counterparts in three key areas: combating gang violence and strengthening citizen security, spurring economic development, and improving capacity to receive and reintegrate returned families and children. Homeland Security Investigations, which is part of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), has surged 60 additional criminal investigators and support personnel to their San Antonio and Houston offices for this purpose. On June 20, DHS also announced that it will establish a temporary facility for adults with children on the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center’s Artesia, N.M. campus. The establishment of this facility will allow ICE to increase our capacity to hold and expedite the removal of the increasing number of adults with children illegally crossing the southwest border. This facility is one of several that DHS is developing for this purpose.
At the direction of President Barack Obama and Secretary Johnson, on June 1, a Unified Coordination Group was established to leverage Federal resources to provide humanitarian relief to the ongoing situation. This includes DHS and all of its components, the Departments of Health and Human Services, Defense, Justice, State and the General Services Administration. Secretary Johnson appointed Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate to serve as the Federal Coordinating Official for this U.S. Government-wide effort.
For a Fact Sheet on the Artesia Temporary Holding Facility for Adults with Children in Expedited Removal, visit here.