The secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson, went to an outpost in South Texas yesterday to inaugurate the biggest detention center for undocumented immigrants in the United States. The center covers no less than 50 acres and will be capable of holding up to 2,400 undocumented immigrants apprehended illegally crossing the south-west border ‒ a steep increase from the 100 beds available in the Pennsylvania facility that was previously the nation’s largest.
Although President Obama has announced that he is taking executive action to protect millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation, as well as offering work permits to eligible immigrants, he has also authorized new policies that will reinforce security on the border in the hope of preventing a new influx of immigrants. The center is situated 85 miles to the north-east of Laredo, in Dilley, and has been specifically designed to hold women and children.
Republicans have been quick to condemn Obama for his actions and the president is also starting to come under fire from immigration lawyers and advocates outraged at the idea of confining mothers and young children for long periods. “There are no conditions that could make the mass incarceration of families right,” says immigration lawyer Stephen Manning.
The center’s opening was presided over by Johnson, who sent a stark warning to immigrants considering trying to cross into the United States illegally. “It will be now more likely that you will be detained and sent back,” he insisted.