DHS to process illegal immigrants at New Mexico facility

Created: 06/23/2014 4:05 PM
By: Erica Zucco, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Officials have released more information about the role New Mexico will play in solving what the White House calls a humanitarian crisis. In the past six months, more than 50 thousand unaccompanied children have fled Central America, crossing the border into the United States.

“Everybody has found themselves just a little overwhelmed with the amount traffic that we're dealing with,” Raul Ortiz of US Border Patrol said.

Starting this week, several hundred immigrants will be bussed from Texas, which is dealing with the influx, to a facility in Southern New Mexico.

Video shows some of the tens of thousands of children who have fled Central America, unsupervised, in a surge of illegal immigration the United States was not expecting. Many of their parents paid smugglers to get them out, hoping they’ll escape the gang and drug wars blazing in their home countries.

“When you see the type of violence that these young men and women are facing- it's really no choice at the end of the day. Either you leave or you will die unless you join a gang or criminal network. It's not much of a choice,” Javier Martinez of the Partnership for Community Action said.

The numbers have overwhelmed existing Department of Homeland Security facilities, so for an undetermined period of time the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Artesia, New Mexico will house and process hundreds of women and children. The DHS says they’ll be held in a secure area separate from training areas and no operations will be affected.

Monday, the DHS released a letter they sent to Spanish-speaking media outlets, pleading with families not to send their kids over the border. In part, they wrote:

"In the hands of smugglers, many children are traumatized and psychologically abused by their journey, or worse, beaten, starved, sexually assaulted or sold into the sex trade."

But Martinez worries the warnings will fall on already desperate ears.

“These kids are not fleeing simply for social or economic reasons, they are literally fleeing for their lives,” Martinez said.

Congressman Steve Pearce released the following statement on the facility Monday, reading:

-This is a humanitarian crisis. Families and children are flooding across our border, and now held in overflowing facilities. There are communities and people in the Second District looking to assist the children with basic needs. My office has been in communication with DHS regarding the transfer and processing of hundreds of detained illegal immigrants to FLETC. There are a number of outstanding questions regarding the decision -- including site-security features, the duration of this operation, and the deportation process -- which my office is seeking clarification on from the Department.

-We must secure our borders immediately. We need a clear, orderly process for immigration. America has fumbled and failed for decades to put in place a border policy that protects our country. Now, President Obama and Congress need to work together and set political goals aside to put in place an orderly process for border security and legal immigration.

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