DONNA – Several lawmakers with the Mexican American legislative Caucus (MALC) spent the morning touring the Donna Holding Facility which became operational May 4 to hold unaccompanied minors and family units in U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) custody.
State Rep. Armando Martinez said there has been a growing concern with the immigrant community and the detention centers that have been on display on several media reports.
“One thing that we cannot stop stressing is that we look at all immigrants as human beings and that they be treated with dignity and respect,” he said.
Martinez, along with his colleagues have heard the stories of the facilities not having showers and the conditions several immigrants face daily. The lawmakers were reaffirmed there were shower facilities, and the conversation with CBP will continue so the immigrants are treated with dignity.
State Rep. Gina Hinojosa (Austin) said an unfortunate confirmation on the visit was children were being separated from their families when they cross with anyone other than their immediate family.
The Donna Holding Facility holds about 1,000 people which are family units. Currently there are roughly 700 people at the facility.
“Things are changing rapidly,” Hinojosa said. “We saw a glimpse of what is happening at the border and this is now one of several trips that has been planned and scheduled.”
The state lawmakers know that when visitors come knocking on doors the facilities will look up to par for the world to see.
State Rep. Alex Dominguez said it is normal for people to do so, in any circumstance.
“I know when I invite people to my house I clean up so I don't look like a complete bachelor,” he said. “So I imagine they take that into account but if that means we have to visit more often so these facilities are kept up we will.”
Dominguez, who represents the Cameron and Willacy counties also said every day that people are detained here, is a day they are not applying for their freedom, to be with family members or escape hardship of Central American life.
The ongoing cycle continues regardless who visits the holding facilities. People go in and people go out. As the lawmakers were leaving their tour a group of new detainees were arriving to be processed.
A new facility is currently being constructed to help with the growing numbers of detainees CBP is processing daily.